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Suicide prevention takes a comedic approach

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CHARLO – In an effort to make it easier to talk about suicide prevention, the Your Life Matters Project brought in a comedian to talk to students in schools from Arlee to Ronan.

YLMP Youth Member Hailey Schippers introduced the speaker in Charlo on Friday, explaining that the group organized last fall as an independent nonprofit to help with suicide prevention. 

They’ve made it their mission to send cards of support to families when they experience suicide. About three cards have been sent out so far, she said, and to help prevent the need for any more cards, the group is working to raise awareness about suicide.

Kasey Nicholson, M.S., a motivational speaker and comedian with degrees in mental health issues, was brought in to help. The YLMP organized a fun run last year called “Light the Night.” The proceeds from that event were used to pay for the speaker to travel to the different schools.

“I was glad he put the comedy into such a sensitive topic,” Schippers said. “I was crying during his performance, but it was the good kind of crying.” 

Nicholson began his speech delving into the seriousness of the issue by explaining that suicide is an epidemic affecting people all over the country from rich communities to the ghettos.

“When people go through life, there are these stresses,” he said, adding that some people choose suicide because that stress can be too much to handle.

And he said it isn’t right to call them selfish.

“Living with depression every day, waking up and not loving life, they are trying their butts off for weeks, months, or years,” he said.

Talking to people that seem depressed can be difficult, but it’s necessary. He said depression can turn into suicide. The signs of depression include being self-destructive, having low self-esteem, talking about suicidal thoughts, having anxiety, shame, guilt, and unresolved grief. He added that it can also include a feeling of emptiness, irritability, loss of interest, fatigue and insomnia. 

“A lot of victims won’t say anything,” he said, but he recommends reaching out to them. “Tell people that they are not alone. You might get a weird reaction but do it anyway.”

He said there are things people can do if they are feeling depressed, including reaching out for help.

“Ask yourself ‘how ya doin’?’ as you look in the mirror,” he said, adding that people should give themselves compliments. He said it wouldn’t hurt to tell yourself that you are beautiful even if you are a man. Focus on exercise, nutrition, and spiritual health as well. 

Find something that motivates you to live, he said. It could be making basketball dunks 300 times, getting a trophy buck or getting a good grade on a test.

“Be open to the possibilities of trying a new eyeshadow or a new pair of boots,” he said. 

It also helps to have a vision board with goals for the future including dreams for a new car or whatever a person could want.

“See yourself succeeding,” he said. “Imagine it. Keep thinking positive. If you keep saying ‘I can’t, I can’t, I won’t I won’t’ that will be your result.”

Above all else, a person must laugh.

“The biggest thing is to keep the laughter up. Always laugh, even if it’s at someone’s weird ‘twerking’,” he said as he started in on a set of dance moves, encouraging the students to dance with him.

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