Professionals raise awareness during Suicide Prevention Month

By: Brendan Losinski | Metro | Published September 22, 2023

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METRO DETROIT —  September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and experts want to raise awarenss of the issue and let the public know that resources are out there for those suffering from suicidal thoughts and those who may know someone else who is.

Carrie Krawiec, a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Birmingham Maple Clinic, said that one of the reasons professionals want to take time to raise awareness of suicide is that it can have an enormous effect on the community.

“Suicide impacts individuals, families and communities, so individuals, families and communities can all do something,” she said. “When a family member of community member commits suicide, those who are their family or community members are at a higher risk of it themselves. The purpose of (Suicide Prevention Month) is to help these people … to seek support for themselves or someone they know.”

Krawiec stressed that help is out there.

“Suicidal thoughts can range in intensity. It can range from asking ‘what’s the point’ to making plans to take your own life,” she said. “If you’re an individual and you think you are having suicidal thoughts, you can seek help. There is the National Suicide Prevention line, or you can talk to a therapist. Even just speaking to family members or friends, if they are in a nonjudgmental and positive space, can help so long as you remember that they might not have all the resources you need and that some people might not offer the right help.”

For those who know someone who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, experts say that addressing these concerns is vitally important.

“You can be accepting and not judge. If you are the recipient of someone sharing these thoughts with you, be there, but be there in a positive way,” said Krawiec. “If someone shares these things with you, you don’t have to deal with that alone, either. You can reach out to professionals or medical experts to ensure this person in your life gets the proper care.”

While having such conversations can be difficult, the consequences of avoiding them can be deadly.

“Hearing someone talk about wanting to end their life can be very uncomfortable and overwhelming, as well as create feelings of helplessness,” said Kasie Pickart, the project director for the Hope Network Zero Suicide Initiative. “Many people want to help but pull back for fear of saying the ‘wrong thing,’ or increasing the risk of suicide.”

“I’ve spoken to family members who are afraid to talk about it for fear that they will put it in their head, but it can be far more dangerous to avoid or dance around the topic,” added Krawiec. “Always ask if they feel this way. If the answer is ‘yes,’ ask ‘do you have a plan?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ don’t keep it a secret. Stay nonjudgmental and try to help them find help.”

The Hope Network reported that more people died from suicide in the United States last year than any other year on record, basing the figures on provisional data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is also the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34. They added that there were 1,482 suicide deaths in Michigan in 2021.

“Suicides in Michigan continue to rise, which is why Hope Network’s Zero Suicide Initiative is committed to prevention, providing the training to walk someone through the communication skills needed that may help save the life of someone who is thinking about suicide,” said Pickart.

This National Suicide Prevention Month, Hope Network, which is a statewide nonprofit organization that provides health care and life services, is offering free virtual training for anyone interested in learning about effective strategies to aid someone experiencing a mental health crisis or thinking about suicide.

Called “Question, Persuade and Refer,” the training is a 60-minute virtual training session that gives anyone the communication skills needed to help save the life of someone who is thinking about suicide.

Those interested can find more information by going to: and searching “Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR).”

Pickart said the vast majority of individuals who complete training say they feel more empowered to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

“They said it’s the best use of 60 minutes they’ve ever had, to be in a position to potentially save a life,” Pickart said. “The most vital difference we can make through our work is to help save lives and show that hope and recovery is possible. To some this may sound audacious, but, simply put, one life lost to suicide is one too many.”

More than anything, Krawiec hopes people take away from this month that discussion of suicide is not something to be avoided and that addressing it is nothing to be ashamed of.

“In addition to speaking to a medical professional, you can recognize that the feelings are not something to be ashamed of,” she said. “There can be something biological going on with them. Something can be going on in your life. They can be suffering from trauma or substance abuse. These can all make people feel shame, but it can all be managed. Sometimes people just need to realize that they are not alone in feeling this way. Everyone feels empty sometimes. Everyone thinks about death.”

Those who are struggling or in crisis or who know someone who is can find help by texting 988 or going to