September 6, 2021
suicide awareness, suicide, suicide awareness month, warning signs, suicidal thoughts, mental health

Suicide is a silent killer.

Suicide can be frightening and painful to talk about.

However, we must not ignore the topic of suicide,

rather we must lean in and try to understand.

September is suicide awareness month and we sat down with Sandra Fortson, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Wholeness Center, to talk about the warning signs and how to help if you know or suspect someone is struggling with suicidal ideations.

Please read our Q&A with Sandra Fortson on the topic of suicide awareness:


What are symptoms to watch for in adolescents/ adults in terms of suicide awareness? 



Someone who is having suicidal thoughts may start exhibiting some changes in the following personality and behavior characteristics including:

  • becoming more anxious
  • irritable, or quiet;
  • having mood swings;
  • using mind-altering substances more than usual;
  • change in sleep patterns (sleeping much more or less than usual);
  • self-isolating

Some behaviors that may warrant additional concern and attention include threatening self-harm or suicide or demonstrating signs of preparing to end their life such as giving away belongings or making a will.

In some instances, a person may exhibit behaviors that are not quite as easily noticed, for example, appearing overly cheery or suddenly joking about their emotions.

Ultimately, follow your instinct and reach out if you are concerned about someone as many people are reluctant to reach out and be open to others about how they are feeling.  



What should parents/ caregivers/ loved ones do if they suspect someone is suicidal?


BE SUPPORTIVE – First and foremost, when talking to a person you suspect may be suicidal, do not be dismissive of what they’re saying.

For example, if someone mentions feeling overwhelmed with something, do not respond with a statement such as “things could be worse” or “I’ve gotten through a situation like this and you can too.” Even though you may be saying this in an effort to support the person, comments like this actually discount and minimize that person’s feelings and experiences. 


NOTICE THE WARNING SIGNS – Next, it is critical to be aware of warning signs to look out for (see examples of warning signs above).

If you notice one or more of these signs, DO NOT ignore what’s happening.

Reach out to the person as soon as you can. If a person discloses to you that they are feeling suicidal, be sure not to suggest that you are willing to keep this disclosure to yourself. Rather, let the person know that you care about them and want to help, and that concealing this information could do more harm than good. 


BE DIRECT – It is also important to be open and direct when approaching the person.

Do not avoid directly talking about the topic of suicide (such as talking about hurting oneself instead of using the word “suicide”). It can send an underlying message that this is too uncomfortable of a topic to bring up and openly discuss. 



What are some resources in general and at Wholeness that might be helpful?


While Wholeness offers a wide variety of mental health treatment options for individuals struggling with depression, suicidality, etc, clients who are are actively suicidal and have exhausted other treatment options may gain significant benefits from participating in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP).

In fact, research continues to emerge which demonstrates the ability of ketamine to quickly and effectively treat acute suicidal ideation, often with sustained remission of depressive symptoms. 


We know this has been an extremely difficult year for many people on so many levels. But the mental health team at Wholeness is here to assist you in any way that might be helpful.

Especially if you or someone you know is considering suicide.

Please contact the Wholeness Center if you have questions about integrative medicine, and/ or mental health assistance. If you live in the Northern Colorado/ Ft. Collins area and would like to learn more about the innovative programs the Wholeness Center has to offer, please call 970-221-1106 or email

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Posted in Anxiety and Depression, Depression by Wholeness Center | Tags: , ,