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How Can We Prevent Suicide?

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Paige Osburn
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The suicide rate in the United States is the highest it’s been since World War II, according to the latest CDC research.

But for something as widespread — and as grave — as suicide, why don’t we talk about it more? And when we do talk about it, how do we convey the right message? How can we help prevent the loss of another life?

That’s something Agnes McKeen has been grappling with since losing her 16-year-old son Harrison to suicide a few years ago. After his death, she started a nonprofit called Just Talk Suicide Prevention, which aims to increase communication about suicide and suicide prevention through education, storytelling and open dialogue. It also helps support those who are grieving.

Here’s what she told New York Times opinion columnist David Brooks:

In losing Harrison I lost all direction for every ounce of love that a mother has for her child; I lost any idea of where to direct that love. Just because Harrison’s gone doesn’t mean my love for him went away. And I had to learn to love that which is not physically here. And now my son’s energy is woven into the fabric of the universe, and that’s where I directed my love. … So now my love goes to the community.

We talk about suicide prevention beyond the numbers with a panel of experts.

If you or someone you know needs to speak to someone, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. You can call or text that number for free, 24/7.

Show produced by Kathryn Fink. Text by Kathryn Fink.


Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief medical officer, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; @cmoutierMD

Lori Gottlieb, Psychotherapist; columnist, The Atlantic’s “Dear Therapist”; author, “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed”; @LoriGottlieb1

Agnes McKeen, Founder, Just Talk Suicide Prevention; @JustPrevention

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