Preventing Suicide: Do Something

Candle in the dark

Statistics don’t lie. According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, more than 37,000 suicides and hundreds of thousands of suicide attempts happen every year. The topic is rarely talked about, but the issue affects many people. World Suicide Prevention Day is Thursday, Sept. 10, and we want to spread the word that suicide is preventable.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, you should be concerned about a friend or loved one if you begin to see these common warning signs:

  • Making statements about wanting to die.
  • Stating they feel trapped.
  • Feeling they are a burden to others.
  • Feeling as if they have no reason to live.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Isolating themselves from friends and family members.

So what can you do?
“The most important thing you can do is to do something,” said Ben Yamnitz, director of West Lake Center at the Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois. “If there is an immediate risk, call 911 so that the individual can be safe and be seen by a mental health professional. If they are willing to seek help, guide them to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK(8255) or suggest they talk to their pastor or primary care provider. You can also direct them to their local mental health service provider such as Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois.”

Walk-in assessment services are available in Springfield, Jacksonville and Lincoln. Visit for more information.

Two upcoming walks, one in Springfield and one in Winchester, will raise awareness about suicide prevention. Community members are welcome and encouraged to participate.

  • Winchester Suicide Prevention Walk: 8-9 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Winchester United Methodist Church, supported by the Morgan-Scott Suicide Prevent Coalition, will feature speakers and a candlelight vigil. Residents are encouraged to turn on their porch lights on Sept. 10 in recognition of the event.
  • Out of the Darkness American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Walk: 2 p.m. Oct. 17 at Southwind Park in Springfield. The money raised by AFSP will be used for new research, creation of educational programs, public policy advocacy, and survivor support. Register for the walk here.

Ben Yamnitz

Ben Yamnitz, LCSW, is the director of West Lake Center at Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois and the Springfield-area call center for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. He earned a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Evansville and a master’s in social work from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He has been with MHCCI for almost 10 years, and has more than 12 years experience working with adults with mental health issues. He is also a certified trainer of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)..