S.P.E.A.K.: Suicide, Prevention, Education, Awareness and Knowledge

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The Brighton Youth Commission (BYC) is a body of 22 youth and 6 adults who are appointed by the Brighton City Council to study matters and plan events impacting youth and families in the City of Brighton. One of their biggest projects is SPEAK Week. SPEAK (Suicide Prevention Education and Knowledge) started in 2012 after the death by suicide of a dear friend and classmate, Josh Dillon. After experiencing the loss and feeling the impact on the community, the BYC wanted to find a way to educate their peers and community about the warning signs of suicide and provide resources to those in need, thus SPEAK was born. Pennock Center for Counseling is partnering with the BYC to provide free QPR classes to the community. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer. These classes better prepare non-clinicians to assess and help those experiencing suicidality or a mental health crisis. SPEAK Week always ends in a 5k memorial walk, which will take place this year on May 4th. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

There are a few categories to be aware of when looking at signs of suicidality: words, behaviors, and moods. For words, some signs of suicide ideation could be talking about death or feeling hopeless, trapped, or a burden to others. In terms of behaviors, look out for risky behaviors, like abusing substances, giving things away or visiting people to say goodbye, isolation, sleeping too much or too little, and/or planning for ways to act on their urge. The person in question might also be more irritable or seem very fatigued. For moods, look out for an increase in depression, anxiety, anger, as well as humiliation or a sudden “improvement” or sense of relief. People with a trauma history, co-occurring mental and/or physical illness, or difficult life circumstances may be more at risk.

Does this fit someone you know? Do NOT be afraid to talk to someone you are worried about. Direct questions are best. Let them know you care about them, encourage them to seek help, and don’t get stuck debating bigger life questions they might be pondering. Validate their feelings, even if you don’t understand them or agree with them yourself. For more urgent situations, you can refer them to Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255. The person in need can also text TALK to 38255 or visit in person at one of their walk in crisis centers. Follow the link above for a full list of walk in centers.