6 ways to help a friend or loved one who may be suicidal.

Suicide affects people across race, age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Quite frankly, suicide doesn't care.

More than 42,000 people died by suicide in 2014 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For people between ages 10 and 34, it's the second leading cause of death. While thousands complete suicide each year, an estimated 9.4 million adults in the U.S. had serious thoughts of committing suicide.

This problem is bigger than numbers. It's people. It's moms, dads, kids, siblings, grandparents, friends, and partners.


These are complex but treatable issues, and yet too often it's still considered taboo to discuss or speak frankly about suicide or mental health.

When a friend, loved one, or colleague appears to be suicidal, it can be hard to know what to do or say. But the numbers don't lie. Our silence won't slow this public health crisis; when it comes to helping someone in need, inaction is not an option.

Health professionals and people who specialize in suicide prevention say there are small actions you can take to help.

Here are some simple things you can do to help someone who may be thinking about taking their life:

1. Know what to look for.

Familiarize yourself with the warning signs. People thinking about suicide or self-harm may talk about feeling hopeless, trapped, or in incredible pain; withdraw from friends or family; experience drastic changes in mood; and/or increase their use of alcohol or drugs. Someone considering suicide may also talk or write about wanting to die. But the warning signs aren't always cut and dry.

"We tell people to look for changes," says Andy Cartmill, a trainer of suicide and intervention models and senior program educator with Addiction Services for Washington County, Oregon. "Trust your intuition. If you think something is up, there's no harm in being honest and saying, 'I just noticed a change. Are you doing OK?'"

2. Show support without judgment or anger.

Even if your friend hasn't reached out to you, check in. Let them know you care about them and you're concerned. This isn't the time to panic, argue with them, or even to try and talk them out of it.

"We tend to fix things and point out people's strengths and say, 'What about your wife?' 'What about your kids?'" Cartmill says. "It's possible they might not perceive those as strengths. So they very well might think, 'I'm doing my wife or kids a favor by relieving them of a burden.'"

Simply listen. And allow them to speak without judgment.

3. Ask specific questions.

If you're not sure if your friend is in immediate danger, the best thing to do is ask.

Individuals at the highest risk for suicide in the near future will often have a plan, the means to put the plan into action, a time frame, and intention. Asking questions will help you determine immediate risks, and the answers may inform what you do next:

  • "Do you have a plan to harm or kill yourself?"
  • "Do you have access to weapons or things you can use to harm yourself?"
  • "Have you thought about how or when you would do it?"
  • "Are you thinking about suicide?"

If you don't know what a statement or response means, ask for clarity. This may feel awkward or intimidating, but it's important to be direct and honest. And don't worry, talking about suicide won't plant the seed in someone's head.

"Research over and over again says that is not going to happen," Cartmill says. "That's one of the things people are afraid of ... 'If I ask that question, am I going to get them thinking about suicide?' and the answer is no."

4. It's OK to not know what to say.

If you're not a trained health professional or crisis counselor, this territory can be tough to navigate. It's OK to not have the perfect speech or talking points. It's first and foremost your job to listen and recognize they're hurting. That means not changing the subject or minimizing their pain.

"You don't have to be an expert; you really don't. Listening respectfully and being honest is OK," Cartmill says. "It's OK to tell people, 'What you're saying is scaring me. I want you to be OK,' and go from there."

5. Suggest professional help, or offer to help them find it.

This is not an effort to pass them off to someone else and instead aims to get them to a doctor or therapist better equipped to help with their pain. If they're seeing a professional, encourage them to get in touch with them immediately. You can even offer to accompany them to the appointment.

If they're not under a doctor or counselor's care, help them find a mental health professional or call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). It's a free, 24/7 service that can provide people thinking about suicide and those who care about them with support and connections to local resources.

6. Remember, if it's an immediate or crisis situation, it is OK to use the emergency room.

If you wouldn't hesitate to call for a broken bone or allergic reaction, don't hesitate with suicide. In a true crisis, it can't wait.

Suicide doesn't care. But lots of people do.

Keep the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in your phone, 800-273-TALK (8255). In an emergency, having that number handy for yourself or someone you care about may make all the difference.

Even talking about suicide or suicidal ideation may seem overwhelming or scary, but experts agree: Hope and recovery are possible. There are many treatment options available, with several at low or no cost. It starts with paying attention to warning signs, reaching out, and getting help if you need it.

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Jennifer Lawrence

After being a Hollywood staple, Jennifer Lawrence vanished from the public eye following the release of "X-Men Dark Phoenix" in 2019.

Sure, the pandemic had something to do with that … in addition to the usual way our society treats Hollywood "it" girls, once it grows accustomed to the flavor. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence opens up about some other reasons she chose to step away for a time.

Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

"I was not pumping out the quality that I should have," she told VF. "I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I'd gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn't do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, 'Why didn't she run?'"

So then, why do it? As any workaholic would know, it's about so much more than money.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

This story was originally published on The Mighty and originally appeared here on 07.21.17


Most people imagine depression equals “really sad," and unless you've experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that. Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it's different for everyone.

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Photo by Vanessa Garcia from Pexels

A professor's message to students has gone viral.

If you know any teachers, you probably know how utterly exhausted they all are, from preschools all the way up through college. Pandemic schooling has been rough, to say the least, and teachers have borne the brunt of the impact it's had on students.

Most teachers I've known have bent over backwards to help students succeed during this time, taking kids' mental and emotional health into consideration and extending the flexibility and grace we all could use. But teachers have their own mental and emotional needs, too, and at some point, something's gotta give.

A college student posted screenshots of a professor's message on Twitter with the comment "someone PLEASE check on my professor." It's simply incredible.

The message reads:

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