American Foundation for Suicide Prevention shares tips on reaching out to struggling loved ones

'It’s uncomfortable, but it’s really important'
Photo credit Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images

In observation of Mental Health Awareness Month, Audacy welcomed American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) SVP of Research, Dr. Jill Harkavy Freidman, and VP of Mission Engagement, Dr. Doreen Marshall, to discuss the importance of mental health care.

LISTEN NOW: Dr. Doreen Marshall shares recent CDC data on specific populations at higher risk for suicide

Dr. Friedman and Dr. Marshall both joined Audacy’s David O’Leary for separate conversations surrounding Audacy’s Mental Health initiative, I’m Listening, and shared a wealth of knowledge surrounding warning signs for suicide, ways to reach out to someone who may be struggling, and the importance of tending to our own mental health.

“We all have mental health just like we have physical health,” said Dr. Marshall. “We want people to be thinking about their mental health, prioritizing it, and taking some proactive steps to take care of it.”

“We all have mental health, and sometimes we feel well and sometimes not-so-well,” added Dr. Friedman. “Sometimes we have a mental health condition and guess what? Our brains are part of our body, so in fact, mental health is health.”

In addition to tending to our own mental health, both ASFP professionals discussed the importance of looking out for one another and speaking up when you see someone you love struggling.

LISTEN NOW: Dr. Jill Harkavy Freidman discusses ways to reach out to someone who may be struggling

“I think what many people may not realize, is when somebody is struggling with their mental health… that experience is very isolating,” said Dr. Marshall. “In fact, they may even believe that other people don’t want to hear about it or that they’re a burden to other people. It’s why it’s really important that those of us that notice things reach out and reach in.”

She continued, “to not let those things you’re noticing in your friend that’s acting differently or withdrawing, or even talking in ways that they sound very hopeless — to really not be afraid to ask them how they’re doing with their mental health. And if you’re worried about suicide, not being afraid to ask them directly if they’re having thoughts of suicide. You won’t put the thought in their head, in fact they’re more likely to feel heard and feel somebody recognizes the emotional pain that they’re in.”

Dr. Friedman acknowledges it can be a lot easier said than done to have these conversations, but it’s important to know, it’s more common than we think for individuals to have suicidal thoughts.

“It’s uncomfortable, but it’s really important,” she stated. “It’s normal to have feelings, it’s not unusual to think about suicide. We know that more than half of people have been affected by suicide loss, so we really want to have those conversations.”

Listen to your favorite music now on Audacy and keep up with artists creating music focused on feeding the mind with the I’m Listening Mental Health Mix

To hear more about initiating those conversations, how to find help for yourself, or more information surrounding mental health, check out the above interviews with Dr. Doreen Marshall and Dr. Jill Harkavy Freidman. 

Audacy's I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 988. Find a full list of additional resources here.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Barry Brecheisen/Getty Images