By Renee Joyce, LMFT

It was 1996 and I received a call that I will never forget. My uncle died by suicide. It was more than 20 years ago and my heart continues to ache when I remember that day or I think about him. His story was left unfinished. My relationship with him ended abruptly and my dreams and beliefs about what I knew about him shattered. He died without an explanation or help. He died alone.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for persons age 10-34. Research shows that 90% of persons who died by suicide experienced symptoms of mental health conditions. Unfortunately, many people are not aware that suicide is treatable and can be preventable. There are many ways to get help and to manage suicidal pain or crisis.

Suicidal thoughts affect the part of the brain that impacts effective decision making which is why it can be difficult to think of a positive solution when suicidal thinking is present. It is important to know that there are many treatment options and resources. Ask a mental health provider about suicide focused treatment such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Ask your doctor about a mental health screening. Call the Colorado Crisis Services Support Hotline to reach a trained crisis counselor or peer who can offer caring support and resources, 1-844-893-8255.

I never got to know who my uncle was behind his smile. He was so goofy and effervescent and would light up any room. He was and continues to be one of the most important people of my life. It was years later that I discovered my uncle struggled with depression as an adult. I have no way of knowing if he ever received treatment. I wish I could go back and tell him that it is okay to get help.

I cannot go back and change what happened to my uncle or to my family with the grief in the years that followed. Instead, I have dedicated my adult life to understand suicide in order to treat and prevent another life from being lost. In my line of work, I have had the extraordinary honor of sitting with many individuals experiencing suicidal crisis; and, have been able to see them get access to help and come through the other side to feel better, stronger and most importantly-alive. I know there is help available and that treatment works. I am so grateful that our community offers so many caring providers and resources.

If you or someone you know needs mental health support, know that it is okay to talk about suicide and it is okay to reach out for help. A KIDZ Clinic offers care for youth ages 0-21. If you are a person older than 21, and are unsure who to call, please reach out to our team at A KIDZ Clinic to ask for an adult referral list. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please do not hesitate to reach out to crisis resources. Whatever you are going through, there is help through it. Always remember this-YOU belong here. Your presence is felt. And our community is a better place with YOU in it.

Renee is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and is a suicide loss survivor. She serves Delta County as the Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator and works in Delta County School District through A KIDZ Clinic to provide behavioral health support to students and young adults. For more information call: 970-874-2753. Text “HOME” to 741-741 for 24/7 crisis support.

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