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Crisis experts stress importance of reaching out during Suicide Prevention Awareness month

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HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — September marks National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It’s a hard subject to talk about, but it is also an opportunity to discuss the stigma surrounding mental health.

Paula Rymer is a professor and a mental health crisis expert at Marshall University. She says the question she gets the most from allies is, “how can I help?” Rymer says the answer is as simple as asking someone, “are you okay?” and, “are you thinking about harming yourself?”

People often fear being blunt and asking that question, but Rymer says it doesn’t put the idea in their heads. She says it may open them up to talk to you about what they’re going through.

“If you can’t find someone you trust to talk to immediately, then you need to call the crisis line,” says Rymer. “It’s going to be somebody that really knows counseling, that really understands, and they’ll be talking with you.”

If you, or someone you love, finds themselves in a crisis situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Rymer says lay people interested in learning more about suicide prevention can be trained in QPR (Question. Persuade. Refer.). Because of COVID-19, the trainings are virtual. If you’re interested, you can email her at to learn more.

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