Hans Wiik: MHP working to answer ‘what’ rather than ‘why’ of suicide

The recent Daily Camera editorial proclaims suicide a “painful riddle.” True, when we hear world-renowned chefs, celebrities and successful business leaders who seem to “have it all” complete suicide, our first reaction is to ask “why?” However, studies have provided answers to that question: mental health issues, substance abuse, loneliness, financial disasters, cyber-bullying, etc. all contribute to increased risk of suicide. And, unfortunately, it is hard to contemplate a modern-day society where these issues are eradicated. Therefore, the question we truly crave the answer to is not “why?” but “what” can help?

What actions will help stop the rising rates of suicide?

What can someone say to help a person in need?

What changes in our communities can we implement?

What signals can we recognize and respond to?

Mental Health Partners (MHP), along with others in the mental health field, work every day to provide answers to the “what” question. This includes ensuring access to comprehensive mental health and substance abuse care; providing trainings, such as Mental Health First Aid, to educate individuals on how to identify and address suicide ideation; launching educational and awareness campaigns; and more.

But if these efforts, and more, exist, why has suicide increased 30 percent over 20 years? The reason is these efforts are only effective if people know about them through increased awareness, education, support and funding. MHP is working to increase awareness of these efforts through our soon-to-be-launched suicide prevention campaign that combines social media, outreach and suicide prevention trainings throughout the community. Our hope is this campaign will lead to a different kind of “permanent response to a temporary problem” and, once for all, help address this riddle.

Stay tuned for more information about MHP’s suicide prevention campaign by visiting mhpcolorado.org or join our #ExpandTheAccess #EndTheStigma conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Hans Wiik,


Chief executive officer, Mental Health Partners

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