Sorrow and Silence- Breaking boundaries and talking about suicide.

Suicide can effect any one.  It is a conversation that is often avoided because it is difficult but extremely important.  Winter is easily an isolating time for people deep in depression.  Mke Mindbody Wellness has attended the Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee conference to receive QPR training for preventing suicide.  We want you to know the basics so you too recognize when someone you needs help.

prevent suicide wisconsin

The message is simple: Do not be afraid to ask someone if they have thought about committing suicide. 

As members of the mental healthcare community, we want to share with you the most basic guidelines for helping someone whom you believe may be spiraling into a deep depression or state of hopelessness.  If you are concerned about the safety of someone or see them losing their ability to cope with life, it is always a good idea to engage and ask if they are thinking about suicide.  

Those who are at highest risk for suicide are the least likely to ask for help.  The person most likely to prevent this suicide is someone the person already knows- not an outsider, trained therapist, or prevention call line. Familiar people are influential and can encourage someone at risk to accept help.  Who are influential people?  Those who have frequent and sustained relationships with an individual (spouses, partners, friends, employers, coworkers, siblings, bartenders, etc.)  Ask questions, persuade them, and get them to help.

It may feel "taboo" or intrusive to ask someone if they are feeling suicidal.  This is dangerous and only perpetuates that silence that can be unbearable to someone who needs help and is afraid or unwilling to ask.  With high publicity teen suicides, we can gain a teaching moment- insights into how we can treat people better in the future by reaching out and asking them:

  • Have you been thinking about suicide?
  • Have you thought about how you would do it? Do you have a plan?
  • Have you ever tried to kill yourself?
  • How long have you felt this way?
  • Have you told anybody else about this?
  • I care what happens to you and I think you need help. I want to help you find the help you need

Never assume that:

  • He/She should ask for help
  • Mental healthcare services are there
  • He/She has the crisis hotline number (even if you gave it to them)

Strong warning signs:

  • "I've had it! I'm going to kill myself!"
  • "Being dead is best for me right now."

Weak warning signs: (suggestive) Engage in conversation. 

  • "Everyone would be better off if I was gone."  (Are you going away? Vacation?)
  • "Have the boss send my last check to my so-called wife."  (I did not know you were quitting… Is everything ok?)
  • "I can't sleep, I've had it with this shit!" (That is terrible. Are you going to be ok?)

Once you have engaged this person and know how serious the risk is- you are better equipped to help them.  If you know someone is planning to commit suicide CALL 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is the national suicide prevention hotline. They will tell you how to help someone you are worried about.



Never assume that just because someone knows about services that they will utilize them.  A lot of people have trouble asking for help, so it is important to start encouraging people to accept the help that is offered.  If you see someone you know in a downward spiral or have witnessed any of the warning signs...

Reach out- ask questions- offer help.

What more can you do? Look into getting QPR training for yourself or your workplace.  Because you never know who is feeling hopeless and the most influential people are those we are familiar with, QPR training is like CPR for suicide… the more people with this training, the more people who know how to help those who are at risk.


For the full version of this information, please watch the entire video:

More resources:

    4-7-8 Relaxing Breath Exercise

    4-7-8 (relaxing breath) Exercise

    "Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders."
    Andrew Weil, M.D.

    This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercisePlace the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

    • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.

    • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four (4)

    • Hold your breath for a count of seven (7)

    • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight (8)

    • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

    Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

    This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

    Take this exercise with you everywhere you go… traffic, the grocery line, your desk, watching tv, etc. Set an alarm on your phone if you need the reminder.  Just a few minutes per day may be the key to better stress management.