#YOLO for Suicide Prevention

In the fight against suicide, prevention is an undeniably key factor in preventing tragic loss. Perhaps no year in recent history broadcasted the need for suicide prevention more so than 2018, when we witnessed the high-profile deaths of both designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. In light of such public losses, prominent advocates are using their resources to raise awareness of suicide.

On February 7th, New York transformed the Fashion Week runway into a strut for suicide prevention at the show “#YOLO: You Only Live Once”. Facilitated by Supermodels Unlimited Magazine, a beauty industry publication for women, models walked the runway during New York’s Fashion Week.  Their mission was to aid suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ teens by sharing their message with the crowds of trendsetting influencers. At stake were the lives of more than 1 million young LGBTQ + individuals at risk.

According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-third of LGBTQ+ high school students had attempted suicide at least once in 2015, compared to six percent of heterosexual youth, a disparity recognized by advocates for suicide prevention. All proceeds from the show went directly to The Trevor Project, a suicide-prevention group for LGBTQ+ youth under 25.  The proceeds fund vital emergency phone banks and chat systems.

Signs of suicidal thinking can take many forms and is most often the result of major depression or other mental illness. The American Psychological Association recommends awareness of risk factors including recent loss, changes in personality and routine, low self-esteem, lack of future hopes and discussing dying. It is critical to learn potential warning signs and how to seek help.

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Phone lines including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) are invaluable in reaching trained counselors and are often the first line of defense.  If someone you know is in danger, the clinicians at the Mental Health Collective in Orange County, CA, recommend asking direct, compassionate questions about thoughts of self-harm.  It is a myth that asking about suicide triggers it, and in fact, asking can be the first step in connecting an at-risk individual to much needed treatment.Encouraging treatment, open communication and the avoidance of drugs and alcohol are also critical.  It can be helpful to offer reassurance and support your loved one in seeking treatment.

Always take signs of suicidal behavior seriously and seek help from a licensed mental health professional. If someone has attempted suicide, call 911 and stay with the person until help arrives.

Awareness and intervention save countless lives. By garnering support from models, musicians, reality TV stars and more, the #YOLO Fashion Walk reflected the need to bring attention to suicide prevention and the millions of at-risk people who suffer from mental illness each day.  After all…we do only live once. Let’s support each other in making it the best life possible.

– C.Fogarty