SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, a time where organizations and those personally affected by suicide are looking to get rid of the stigma on the subject.
Celia, a mother of four, loves to paint. But after one of her daughters took her own life in 2017, her life became like a canvas without any color.
“The first year was pretty blank. This last year I sort of evaluated in my life what is important and what’s not important,” Celia said.
Advocating for ways for people to speak up about the issue became a major priority in Celia’s life.
“My daughter, she did not give any… outward signs that she was contemplating suicide. She never came to us. She was a happy kid, always had a smile. She had a lot of friends; the school was pretty important to her, and then just out of the blue,” Celia said.
She recently turned to the 211 Helpline Center. Through them, she’s been working to help end the stigma on discussions about suicide.
“I like to attend some of their suicide prevention activities. I participate in the walk every year,” Celia said.
“I just think people are afraid to ask that question, sometimes, and then maybe afraid of the response. But that’s where our prevention and education efforts come in here at the Helpline Center: to get that message out there,” Suicide Prevention Director Sheri Nelson said.
Recently, through their Hope to Healing Art show, Celia found another reason to paint.
“It’s a way to honor Mali,” Celia said.
Nelson says that a common reason people don’t talk about the issue is that they’re afraid it could create one.
“They think that will put the idea in their head: that is a myth,” Nelson said.
But it’s actually one way that can help them.
“It’s relief for them because ‘Oh. You’re giving me permission to talk about and to tell my story and what’s going on with me,” Nelson said
Nelson recommends a few questions to ease into the conversation:
“‘Hey, how are you doing?’ ‘I’ve noticed you’ve been down,’ ‘Can I talk with you?'” Nelson said.
But when it comes to talking with someone who has or is dealing with a loss, find other ways to talk about it.
“Things that are not helpful are, ‘She’s in a better place,’ ‘She’s not in pain,’ Sorry for your suffering,'” Celia said.
The Helpline Center is open 24/7. It not only helps individuals with suicidal thoughts but helps those who know others who are struggling and helps them create that conversation.
“Suicide doesn’t discriminate. Neither does mental illness… it can happen to anybody… and the more education we put out there, just to be able to save one life… it would be the world,” Celia said.
You can find more ways to help end the stigma on discussions of suicide and mental health by visiting the Helpline Center’s website.