HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – In a conversation about mental health and more specifically suicide, words matter. Dial Help in Houghton is helping people be more aware of what they say, especially during sensitive times.

“So words can hurt someone or they can help somebody and we really do have to focus on the fact that we want people to reach out for help and they’re not going to reach out for help if they feel ashamed, isolated, or like this doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Virginia Lambert, Crisis Unit Manager and Director of Victim Services with Dial Help said. “So we are really trying to get away from words that are making it seem like you’re being blamed for having these feelings or that you’re not normal for having these feelings. We want people to just encourage each other and feel supported and like they have the ability to reach out for help.”

Dial Help is offering ways to help people continue to destigmatize and spread awareness for mental health issues like suicide.

“So we’ve definitely gotten away from the word committed,” Lambert said. “The word committed has such a negative feel to it and it means you committed a crime or it was sinful. We need to start looking at words a little bit more carefully. We want to use more neutral phrases like death by suicide so that we’re de-stigmatizing the fact that the person took their life.”

If you know someone who is contemplating death by suicide, Dial Help says the best way to approach them is to just be upfront.

“The most important thing you’re going to do for a child or an adult is to ask them directly, ‘Are you thinking of suicide?’ This is not going to cause them to run out and complete suicide,” Lambert said. “This is a very important question because you’re opening it up to those answers that you need. You can’t really get the answers if you don’t know. From there you can start working with them and figuring out what they need. Questions like ‘What’s going on in your life right now that you are thinking of suicide?’ It just opens up that narrative so that you can best know how to help them. ‘Do you have a plan?’ or ‘Do you have an idea of when you want to do it?’ These are all things that once you start talking about it you can help the child or person find ways to navigate those feelings that they’re having and hopefully get them to a better place or get them the help that they’ll need. “

In a time when people can feel so isolated, Lambert and the rest of the Dial Help team want you to know that help is out there.

“You’re definitely not alone,” Lambert said. “Everyone goes through those moments at one point in their lives and reaching out to a crisis line, to your support person, to your parents, to your sisters and brothers, your teacher is okay. You’re not alone and people are going to understand if you want to tell them about what’s going on.

Dial Help assists in many different situations with experts available all day, every day.

To reach Dial Help by phone: (800) 562-7622 or (906) 482-HELP(4357)
To reach Dial Help by text message: 906-35NEEDS (906-356-3337)
To reach Dial Help by instant messenger click here.