Leader Haas Promotes Suicide Prevention Awareness During Suicide Prevention Month

KANKAKEE – With September being Suicide Prevention Month, House Assistant Minority Leader Jackie Haas (R-Kankakee) is recognizing this awareness month and promoting suicide prevention. She encourages 79th District constituents and all Illinoisans to “Be the One” to Help Save a Life.

“As a social worker, I have seen people in the difficult circumstances that mental illness can present and the tragedy of suicide in our communities,” said Leader Haas. “This September and all year round, let’s work to be the one who helps save a life and connect people in crisis with the resources they need for support. Every life is precious, and we must work to show our support and care for our neighbors and loved ones in need.

“As a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor, these five action steps from #BeThe1To are very similar to the action plan steps we teach in MHFA courses and can be used as a guide when you encounter someone in a mental health crisis, or until you can get the person to appropriate professional help.”

These are steps that can be taken to potentially help prevent a suicide:

  1. Ask Them Directly: “Are you thinking about suicide?” Studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. In fact, findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.
  2. Be There: If your friend is thinking about suicide, listen to their reasons for feeling hopeless or in pain. Listen with compassion and empathy, without dismissing or judging. Increasing someone’s connectedness to others and limiting their isolation (both in the short and long-term) has shown to be a protective factor against suicide.
  3. Help Keep Them Safe:  Ask if they’ve thought about how they would do it and separate them from anything they could use to hurt themselves. Knowing the answers to each of these questions can tell us a lot about the imminence and severity of danger the person is in. The 988 Lifeline can always act as a resource, if you aren’t entirely sure what to do next.
  4. Help Them Connect: Help your friend connect to a support system, whether it’s the 988 Lifeline, family, friends, clergy, coaches, co-workers or therapists, so they have a network to reach out to for help.
  5. Follow Up: Check in with the person you care about on a regular basis. Making contact with a friend in the days and weeks after a crisis can make a difference in keeping them alive.

Individuals can also find resources to spread the word about suicide prevention by visiting: https://www.bethe1to.com/join/. Rep. Haas has served as a social worker for over 30 years and is the Republican Spokesperson of the House Mental Health & Addiction Committee.