Normalizing suicide conversations can help prevent it

As we continue the conversation about Suicide Prevention Awareness month, it’s important to note those personal stories of families affected by this tough topic.

Shedding light on this sensitive subject is never easy but it’s one way to honor those families who are affected by suicide.

We spoke with one family that lost their son by suicide as well as the Assistant Director at a counseling center who says it is time to normalize talking about suicide in order to help prevent it.

Evelyn Alt says, “While suicide may not be completely preventable, there’s a way to slow it down.
we have to be able to talk about our feelings. we have to be able to know it’s ok to
say hey I’m hurting.”

Evelyn Alt’s son, Asher Alt, was born female and growing up he struggled with mental health issues.
And mainly his identity. He felt more comfortable identifying as male. By the time he was 13, his mother knew something wasn’t right when Asher began having suicidal thoughts.

“The stigma behind suicide made it not so easy for us in our small town community
to have him grow up there. So we did place him out of our small little town,” says Evelyn.

After several attempts, Asher died by suicide in October of 2017. He was 19-years-old.

Alison Traynor who is the Assistant Director at Summit Counseling services says Suicide is a huge problem in North Dakota. She explains, “In fact, over the last couple of years, the CDC released a report even before the pandemic saying that the North Dakota suicide rate had increased more than any other state in the country.”

It’s actually increased by more than 58 percent since 1999. But Traynor says there are effective treatments for things like anxiety and depression. Things like counseling, finding support groups, and going for walks. But mainly just reach out because you’re not alone and there is hope.

Two months after Asher’s death, she became actively involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and it opened doors and resources to help her and the family heal.

You can find more information and resources on suicide prevention here.

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