PIERRE-- Governor Kristi Noem has proclaimed September as Suicide Prevention Month in South Dakota. This month is a time when South Dakotans join their voices to raise awareness of suicide prevention and renew efforts to make individuals aware that help is available.
“People who are experiencing thoughts of suicide can find healthy interference from this grave burden when someone simply asks them if they are ‘okay?’ and then listens without judgement,” said Department of Social Services (DSS) Cabinet Secretary Matt Althoff. “Ongoing, consistent support matters. It helps these individuals to realize how appreciated they are. Recognizing the importance we hold in the lives of others can serve as an essential, life-saving antidote to thoughts of self-harm.”
In 2021, there were 202 suicides in South Dakota, the highest recorded, according to South Dakota Department of Health statistics. In 2022, the number of suicides dropped by 5 percent.
“Through the example of the DSS’s “ Notes to Self” awareness campaign, we are hoping to show South Dakotans that small acts can make a big difference in someone’s journey” Althoff said.
The easiest way to find out if someone is in crisis is to just ask. Even someone who appears happy on the outside could be experiencing a mental health challenge or suicide crisis.
Some tips on what to say:
- What’s on your mind?
- You don’t seem like yourself. Is everything okay?
- I care about you, and I’m here to listen.
- Can we spend some time together?
- I’m grateful to have you in my life.
If someone is thinking about suicide and they’ve voiced a plan, keep them safe by being physically present with them or connected via technology. Help separate them from the situation or anything they could use to hurt themselves. Encourage them to seek professional support and offer help in ways you’re able to, such as contacting 988 together. 988 is available through call, text, or chatting online at 988lifeline.org/chat. A South Dakota-based crisis counselor will be there to offer support.
To learn more about 988 and how to support someone, visit SDBehavioralHealth.gov.
South Dakota Suicide Prevention: SDSuicidePrevention.org
South Dakota Treatment Resource Hotline: 1.800.920.4343
The Helpline Center: HelplineCenter.org
The South Dakota Department of Social Services is dedicated to strengthening families to foster health, wellbeing, and independence. For more information, please visit dss.sd.gov.