Robin Williams' death is sparking a conversation about suicide and how to talk to loved ones about the issue.
According to the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, suicide is the only cause of death that's on the rise in this country; that's the case locally, too. In 2013, La Crosse County reported 18 deaths by suicide. This year, that number is already at 17.But there are resources available, for yourself, or for someone you know, who's going through a tough time.
Great Rivers 211 is just one of several resources in the La Crosse area for those who are considering suicide. Amy is one of the workers at the crisis hotline. It's often her voice on the other end of the phone, picking up for those who just need someone to listen.
"We're here," she says. "You can dial up the phone, and it's confidential to even share, 'I'm having a bad day, and how can I get connected.'"
The 24/7 hotline offers advice and community services, along with suicide prevention services. You can dial 211, or toll-free at 1-800-362-8255 to reach someone at any hour of any day.
Sometimes, though, it's simply a loved one who can offer the most help to someone considering suicide.
"You don't have to be a professional person to help someone who's suicidal," said Geri Mulliner of the La Crosse Area Suicide Prevention Initiative.
Mulliner offers some warning signs associated with the treat of suicide, including agitated behavior that has been reported in previous studies.
"People who ended their life by suicide had a period of 24 to 48 hours before the event that they couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, couldn't sit still," she said.
There are other signs, too.
"Someone who's contemplating suicide might be doing some prepatory behaviors such as giving away belongings or making comments about wanting to die," Mulliner included. "Of utmost importance is to never leave the person alone after you realize they're suicidal."That's where a simple conversation can come in handy - and that's why you can find Amy and her coworkers at Great Rivers 211, ready to just talk.
"Even if it's just a day in question instead of feeling alone, there's somebody at the other end of the line to talk to," Amy says. "A person. A voice."
A full list of reported warnings associated with suicide can be found at the National Suidice Prevention Lifeline's website. You can also find more information on area suicide prevention efforts here, at the La Crosse Area Suicide Prevention Initiative.