(KMSP) - September is Suicide Awareness Month, but two Minnesota women hope to save lives by encouraging anyone who’s struggling to reach and speak out.
One of them is professional photographer Laura Dizon.
“It’s probably the last great photo I have of him,” she said. “When he would walk into a room everybody would notice and everybody would be happier because of it,”
Dizon told Fox 9 as she held a snapshot of her brother Aaron on Sunday.
While Aaron brought joy to many, behind his bright smile was an ongoing battle with depression.
“It was a big surprise when he took his life,” Dizon said.
That was four years ago. Aaron was only 32.
“I think if I could’ve been more sympathetic knowing it’s a disease, and that he can’t help himself - he can’t help his dark days - that I could’ve done a little bit more,” Dizon said.
Now, Dizon is doing more with another woman who also wants to help prevent suicide. The two created Shout Out Loud, a concert benefit for suicide awareness.
“We've created a 12-hour event and people are sponsoring, people are donating, people are volunteering,” said Dr. Lisa Herman.
“And the best part, people are talking about mental wellness, and that's the whole point,” Dizon nodded.
As fate would have it, Dizon’s work led her to befriend Dr. Lisa Herman, founder of Synergy eTherapy, an online mental health counseling group.
“A big reason I started Synergy eTherapy was to increase access to mental healthcare to anyone in the entire state,” Dr. Herman said.
According to the CDC, the suicide rate in Minnesota increased by more than 40 percent over the last 18 years, compared to a 25 percent increase nationwide.
“We just wanted to do something from the goodness of our own hearts, and that’s where Shout Out Loud was really created was to help our community really understand that this is something they can talk about,” Dr. Herman said.
Dizon added that there are ways to approach those we care about if concerns arise.
“If somebody is depressed or overly drinking or doing drugs, or doing things out of the ordinary just say ‘are you okay, can I help you?’ No one is going to get upset with you for asking to help them,” Dizon said. “We can’t change people, but we can be there for them and we can tell them how much we care about them, how wonderful they are in our world, and really remind them about those things.”
The first Shout Out Loud concert benefit takes place Saturday, Sept. 15 at the Copperwing Distillery in St. Louis Park from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
HELP IS AVAILABLE
Experts say you may want to pay attention to drastic mood changes - maybe they're depressed, sleeping more, sleeping less or abusing substances . Those all are signs it might be time to seek help, or at least talk to someone.
But if someone is resistant to getting help, you can offer to spend time with them, invite them to join you in a hobby you enjoy for stress-relief like yoga. The key is to pay attention and listen.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255. The hotline has trained staff available 24/7 to help those in crisis. Everyone can play a role in preventing suicide by being aware of the warning signs of suicidal behaviors:
- Talking about wanting to die; feeling hopeless, trapped, or in unbearable pain, being a burden to others
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
What you can do
If you believe someone is at risk of suicide:
- Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves. (This will not put the idea into their heads, or make it more likely that they will attempt suicide.)
- Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
- Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
- Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
- If possible, do not leave the person alone.