Talking about self-harm is best way to prevent it

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Thoughts of harming oneself generally stem from overwhelming pain. Suicide prevention is something that anyone can do, and it starts with listening and recognizing the signs of suicidal talk.

People who attempt to take their lives don’t want to die. They just want to stop hurting, according to Harvard Health Publications.

Most people feel unable to prevent self-violence in another person. We worry that starting the conversation will make things worse. We wonder whether saying the wrong thing will put the idea into the suffering person’s head or trigger the act.

But according to the International Association for Suicide Prevention, evidence suggests these fears are myths. Our hesitation is understandable, but bringing up the topic of suicide is both difficult and the right approach.

Being a caring and listening person in a non-judgmental way is more likely to reduce distress than increase it, research shows.

Parents may not realize how much this topic is on the minds of their teenagers. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, adolescents ranked violence prevention as number six in a list of topics they would like to discuss. Their parents placed violence prevention as number 10.

Again, talking about violence, including self-violence, will not bring up a topic your teen hasn’t thought about.

Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.

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