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Psychologist says talking about suicide shouldn't be taboo

Dr. Kramer said if you're worried one of your loved ones may be feeling suicidal, it's important to know asking about suicidal impulses isn't taboo. (KRCG)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called suicide a national public health problem; and in Missouri, the suicide rate is about 1.4 times higher than the national average. In the wake of suicide rates rising by 36% in the last 20 years in Missouri, SSM Health Psychologist Dr. Laurel Kramer was speaking out about the signs of suicide in this week's Family First.

"If you notice your loved ones is increasingly withdrawing from you, the family, or their usual activities, pay attention," she said. "They may not want to go to family get togethers when they used to want to do that. They may be eating less or they may be eating more. They may be sleeping more restlessly, or they may be sleeping too much. Those are all warning signs."

Dr. Kramer said if you're worried one of your loved ones may be feeling suicidal, it's important to know asking about suicidal impulses isn't taboo. "It can be very helpful to the depressed person, even in a crisis, for a loved one to ask directly, 'Are you thinking of killing yourself?' she said.

Asking a child, parent or other loved one that question can be hard, but Dr. Kramer said it can sometimes be a first step toward positive change for someone who is struggling. "Asking that question directly - 'are you thinking of killing yourself' - it allows the person to breathe and say 'oh, they know.' And that can sort of be the pin that pricks the balloon open and allows them to talk about it. Then, you can help them get help," she said.

Dr. Kramer said there is one message she shares when she encounters someone who is feeling suicidal. "I always tell them, people love you. Your family and friends love you. No matter how bad the situation, your loved ones want you to stay here," she said.

Dr. Kramer said if anyone ever tells you they are contemplating suicide, it is crucial to take their concerns seriously. She also said if you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, it's key to seek medical help from your primary care doctor, a psychologist, or the emergency room if the situation merits it.

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