Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services (MH&DS) has launched a suicide-prevention campaign — Ask The Question — to encourage people to speak up if someone close to them appears in distress.
The campaign asks individuals to reach out with the simple question “Are you thinking about suicide?” if a friend, neighbor or loved one indicates that he or she might be contemplating such action. By initiating a dialogue, individuals can be directed to support services and other resources. The campaign, spearheaded by the Prevention Services unit of MH&DS, is using social media as well as advertisements on GRTC Transit System buses that will run through the end of 2016.
“This is a very vulnerable time of year for a lot of people,” said Dr. Patricia Hill, Prevention Services manager with MH&DS. “The message behind the Ask The Question campaign is to keep spreading information to save lives.”
The suicide rate peaks in the spring and the fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ask The Question encourages individuals to raise awareness and share their experiences using #ATQ16 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. A webpage, henricoprevention.org/atq16, provides links to information and resources, including a quiz, warning signs that someone may be experiencing mental health distress and access to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and other support organizations.
Each year in Virginia, three times as many people die by suicide than by homicide, and one person commits suicide every eight hours on average. Suicide also is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 34 in the state.