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National Suicide Prevention Week: One person dies by suicide every 36 hours in Nebraska

Experts say it's important to destigmatize mental health
Posted at 6:23 PM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 19:27:42-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — September 5 through September 11 is National Suicide Prevention Week.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average, one person dies by suicide every 36 hours in Nebraska. Ninety percent of people who die by suicide have an underlying mental health condition.

Representatives from local suicide prevention organizations say part of the reason numbers are so high is because, as a society, we don't talk about mental health enough. They say we need to destigmatize it.

"What we try to get people to understand is when your child has a broken arm or cancer you’re certainly seeking out the help to heal them and you need to view mental illness just the same," said Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of the Kim Foundation.

She adds some people believe that by speaking about suicide you put the idea into someone's head, but national research proves that to be wrong. Instead, you should talk about it with those who may be struggling.

Hebenstreit says do research and have resources available if you're going to speak with someone. She suggests having specific examples of warning signs they may be showing like sleeping more, increased substance use or misuse, or not showing up to regular events.

While it's important to have these conversations, Hebenstreit says in order to really address suicide, we must have a systematic approach. She says funding for resources is just as important.

"Whether it be policy more research funding greater access to services removing some of those barriers and a lot of that is done on the state and policy level so we need to make sure we are having that side of it too," Hebenstreit says.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal ideation, call the suicide prevention hotline at 800-273-8255. It is available 24/7.

You can find out more about the Kim Foundation by visiting its Facebook page and website.