Valley Voices

Warning signs! How to stop an attempted suicide

Members of the military are taking a strong position on suicide prevention awareness.
Members of the military are taking a strong position on suicide prevention awareness. U.S. Army

Nationally, suicide, as the 10th leading cause of death, has surpassed the number of deaths due to automobile accidents. There are more than twice as many suicides as homicides. In a recent study conducted among California youth, approximately 19 percent reported having suicidal thoughts in the previous year. Among youth, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

Our own community was deeply touched with the increase in youth suicides over the last year. Suicide deaths inflict trauma and have devastating consequences for the loved ones who are left to cope with the loss.

Last year, over 21,000 calls were made to the national suicide prevention lifeline from Fresno County, seeking help. Most people who attempt or die by suicide show warning signs. Actions can be taken to save lives. And, we believe that even one suicide is too many.

A broad cross section of our community has come together to form the Fresno County Suicide Prevention Collaborative to find ways that we can change these statistics. Schools, government officials, civic leaders, community organizations, and concerned community members have united to create and implement a plan to reduce suicides.

This group is committed to raising awareness and providing education about suicide prevention, to empower those in need, and those supporting them, to get the help they deserve.

All are welcome to join the Fresno County Suicide Prevention Collaborative to create a cooperative and coordinated system to address hopelessness. While we have a long road ahead, our group is already improving communication across sectors such as schools, law enforcement, behavioral health providers, primary care practitioners, faith-based organizations, and others.

We will save lives through prevention efforts, better detection, appropriate interventions, support, and effective treatment. With your support, we can work together towards a community where we no longer lose our loved ones to suicide.

The collaborative meets monthly to strategize, coordinate, and initiate action. You can join the Fresno County Suicide Prevention Collaborative by accessing our new website

We recognize that not everyone has time to attend meetings and trainings. You can support local efforts by increasing awareness through your own social media accounts using hashtags like #BeThe1To, #BeThere, and #NSPW to spread hopeful and supportive messages. Share resources and accurate information. Let them know that you care and that someone who is struggling is not alone.

Suicide can be prevented. But it’s up to every one of us to know the signs, find the words and reach out to have a conversation – whether we ourselves need help or we are seeking services for someone we care about.

If you notice any of these signs present in your life or in someone you know, please contact a behavioral health professional, your primary care doctor, a faith-based leader or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

Critical Signs

If you spot signs of potential risk, and any of the following critical signs listed below, please contact professional help and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately. Note: These are especially concerning when the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss or change.

▪  Threatening to hurt or kill oneself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill oneself

▪  Looking for ways to kill oneself (purchasing a gun, stockpiling pills, etc.)

▪  Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person

Signs of Potential Risk

▪  Hopelessness

▪  Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge

▪  Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking

▪  Feeling trapped, like there is no way out

▪  Changes in alcohol or drug use

▪  Withdrawing from friends, family

▪  A loss of interest in favored activities

▪  Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time

▪  Changes in sleep

▪  Physical pain

▪  Neglecting personal appearance or hygiene

▪  Dramatic mood changes

With your help, we will reach those who have lost hope. We will build better pathways to success. We will save lives. It is my sincere hope that you join us in recognizing this week as National Suicide Prevention Week.

Dawan Utecht was raised in Fresno and now serves as the Director of Behavioral Health for Fresno and the Public Guardian. She can be reached at and (559) 600-6843.

Call for help

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – (800) 273-8255

Fresno Urgent Care Wellness Center – (559) 600-9171

Crisis Text Line - Text 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor