Suicide prevention In Genesee County


Suicide has been in the world spotlight, due to the recent and tragic deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain – a celebrity chef, author, travel documentarian and television personality. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, suicide is one of the ten leading causes of death in Genesee County, in the State of Michigan and in the nation. These suicides were most commonly caused by firearms, poisoning (including overdose), or suffocation (including hanging), reports Tracey Malin, Clinical Risk Officer at Genesee Health System. Malin took time out of her busy day to answer some questions about the warning signs, prevention efforts and where to go to get help.

Q: What are warning signs and are there any underlying factors?

A: The American Association of Suicidology has created a mnemonic to assist in remembering the warning signs of suicide: IS PATH WARM?

I Ideation (thinking, writing, talking about self-harm/dying)
S Substance Abuse (increased use)

P Purposelessness (no reason to live)
A Anxiety (agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all of the time)
T Trapped (no way out, feeling like a burden to others)
H Hopelessness (unbearable feelings, seeing no future, self-loathing)

W Withdrawal (from family/friends, loss of interest)
A Anger (rage, revenge)
R Recklessness (taking unnecessary risks)
M Mood Changes (dramatic)

Warning signs of Acute Risk include threatening to or talking about wanting to hurt or kill themselves; and/or, looking for ways to kill themselves by seeking access to firearms, pills or other means; and/or, talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person. A history of previous suicide attempts is also a predictor of increased future risk.

Q: What should you do if a loved one is suicidal? How can you help them?

A: Take the individual’s comments or behavior regarding suicide seriously. One of the best ways to prevent suicide is to recognize the warning signs and respond. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, ask them about it. Be direct, talk openly and be willing to listen. Asking someone about their suicidal intent does not give them the idea to end their life; it can change their mind. Point out the alternatives – it offers them hope. Show them that you care, that they are not alone, and get them professional help. It is important to determine if the person is at immediate risk. Ask them if they have a plan, if they have access to carry out their plan, and the intent to complete their plan. If so, you must act quickly. Remove potentially lethal objects and do not leave them alone. Call 911 or take the person to the emergency room.

Q: It has been reported that veterans are at high risk for suicide. Where can they go to get help? Are there any statistics in Genesee County about veterans and suicide?

A: According to the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the risk for suicide is 22 percent higher amongst veterans when compared to non-veteran adults. Veterans in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, or those who know a veteran in crisis can call the Veterans Crisis line for confidential support, 24/7, 365 days a year. Call 800.273.8255 (press 1); Online:; Text: 83855. GHS also has a Veterans Services department that will assist those in need.

Q: Where can someone seek support if they have lost a loved one to suicide?

A: If you or a loved one is having a mental health crisis, please reach out for help:

Genesee County

Genesee Health System (GHS) offers a 24/7 Crisis number – call 810.257.3740, toll free 877.346.3648, or TTY 810.232.6310. You can also text FLINT to 741741 to be connected to a crisis counselor.


Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.8255; for deaf and hard of hearing: 800.799.4889. You can also go to their website to

“Asking someone about their suicidal intent does not give
them the idea to end their life; it can change their mind.”
– Tracey Malin, Genesee Health System

Q: What age group is most at risk for suicide?

A: White males remain the population segment with the highest suicide rate, particularly those between the ages of 40-64. For those 65+, both African American and white males are at equally high risk.

Q: What is being done to prevent suicide in Genesee County?

A: Genesee Health System (GHS) launched a community suicide prevention campaign called “Let’s Talk about Suicide” to raise awareness, reduce stigma, to reach out to those suffering from depression and educate their family/friends. This campaign included various billboard messages, TV and radio commercials, along with materials to provide added support on our website. GHS provides Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to our community to educate participants about mental health concerns inclusive of mental health crises.

Several schools and colleges/universities in our area have received this training, along with the City of Flint Police Department, the Flint Township Police Department, and various other departments through the Law Enforcement Officers Regional Training Commission. Those interested in taking a MHFA class can check availability on the GHS website:

To further assist in prevention efforts, GHS has made confidential access to MyStrength available to our entire community. MyStrength assists individuals with anxious or depressive thoughts, substance use, insomnia or other mental health or mood-related needs. Those interested can sign up by visiting On the MyStrength home page, click “sign-up” and enter the access code: GHSCommunity. MyStrength also has a mobile app available for iOS and Android which uses the same access code.

Q: Are there any support groups?

A: For support group info, contact GHS Customer Services 810.257.3705.

Grief can present itself in physical symptoms or conditions also, so it is important for survivors of suicide loss to include their primary care physician/provider to assist. The NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) also has a lot of community resources on their website.

Q: Where can someone seek support if they have lost a loved one to suicide?

A: Survivors of suicide loss may contact Genesee Health System (GHS) for help.


Comments are closed.