September is National Suicide Awareness Month, and this local organization provides a service to ensure people can get the help they need.

The organization Samaritans is working to create more safe spaces to talk about mental health..

CEO and President Kathy Marchi said anyone can help someone in crisis.

“People who are struggling have often really felt alone in those struggles and not talked about it and so we try to take advantage of a month like this, an opportunity to talk more about something that needs to be discussed so more people can reach out and get help when they need it,” Marchi said.

Samaritans provides suicide prevention services throughout the state. Its volunteers answer the 24-hour helpline: 988. The organization also has a text line called “Hey Sam.”

Marchi said the key is listening.

“We really need somebody to say, I hear you, I hear how much pain you’re in, I hear how hard this is for you, I hear that you’re struggling, tell me more about that,” Marchi said.

She also stressed the importance of asking a very difficult question.

“We really want to be direct in that ask and ask someone, ‘are you thinking about killing yourself?’ If that’s a question that’s really too hard to ask for you, it may make sense to get somebody else involved who can ask that question,” Marchi said. “That initial question helps somebody know that if or when they might be struggling to that point that they do have an ally in you because you’ve asked the question and you’re not afraid of the answer.”

If you know someone who is struggling, there are several signs to look out for, including big changes in behavior, changes in weight or appetite, extreme moodiness, and if the person is giving away important items like pets.

Samaritans also stressed that anyone can ask for help, not just those in crisis.

“Most folks who reach out to us are people who are struggling with something, whether it’s an event of the day or something bigger, or over time, if you need support that’s what our help line, that’s what 988 and that’s what Hey Sam are for,” Marchi said.

Samaritans also held a 5K this month for suicide prevention and raised more than $540,000. 

If you ro someone you know is struggling, call the 24-hour hotline at 988.

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