Scott RidgwayScott Ridgway has served as Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network’s Executive Director since 2001. He works closely with TSPN’s gubernatorially appointed Advisory Council to implement suicide prevention strategies within the state of Tennessee. He also serves on the Steering Committee for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Scott has been involved numerous community agencies and organizations over the past several years. Among his numerous honors are the 2005 I.C. Hope Award and the 2006 Eli Lilly Inc “Heroes in the Fight” Individual Community Supporter Award in 2006. He holds an M.S. in Public Service Management from Cumberland University and a B.A. in Human Services from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Q: I have a friend who seems very depressed. Her mother passed away two months ago and as we get closer to the holidays she has withdrawn from her friends and refuses to attend any parties or events. Should I be worried about her?

Your friend may just be suffering from a case of the “holiday blues” made worse by her mother’s death. The holidays are often difficult for people in mourning.  You should reach out to her, but don’t force her to participate in anything if she doesn’t want to.  Ask her to talk about her feelings and what she needs that would make things easier.

However, it may be that her mother’s death has triggered or worsened a case of clinical depression.  You should watch for any suicide warning signs, like talking about death or having no reason to live, giving away prized possession, drinking or using drugs to excess, or unexpectedly making out a will or other final arrangements.

If you pick up on any indication that she might be thinking of harming herself, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) at once.  Trained counselors are standing by 24 hours a day, even during holidays, to provide her with any support and mental health services she may need.  In the event of a suicide attempt actually happens, call 911.

Q: What resources are available in Nashville for someone who is thinking about committing suicide?

The Crisis Center within Family and Children’s Services (FCS) provides free telephone counseling and support to anyone experiencing a crisis, including people who are considering suicide. The counselors are trained to de-escalate and intervene in these potentially dangerous situations.

Depending on the situation, the counselor may simply help talk the person out of immediate drastic action and provide them with contact information for a therapist in their area.  However, the counselor can also arrange for an assessment by the local Mobile Crisis Unit and/or transport to a local mental health center for emergency intervention.

The number for the crisis hotline is (615) 244-7444  and is available 24 hours a day, weekends and holidays included.

Q:  My best friend committed suicide. I feel so guilty that I didn’t see it coming. What signs should I have picked up on to prevent this?

Survivor guilt is a common emotion among people whose friends or family die by suicide… but this emotion is often unjustified.  Suicide warning signs can be hard to spot for people who haven’t been taught how (which makes the need for the suicide prevention training TSPN offers so urgent).  And no matter what you did, didn’t do, or could have done, it was your friend who made the choice to end his/her life . . . not you.

It may help to share your feelings with other people experiencing the same type of loss.  Within the Nashville area, FCS offers a weekly suicide survivors support group meeting, more information on meeting times and locations is available through their crisis line at  (615) 244-7444.

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