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National Suicide Prevention Month – An Interview with Hanna’s Bob Bancroft

September 23, 2020 September is Suicide Prevention Month

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. And to both acknowledge the month, and to help share information and resources around suicide prevention we sat down with Bob Bancroft who is a therapist at Hanna.

Bob came to Hanna almost a year and a half ago with a long history of working at both residential treatment and crisis centers.

He explains, “when you’re working in both environments, mental health and suicide prevention is front and center. It’s such a huge focus and is always top of mind because suicide is the ultimate safety concern.”

When asked what ‘we’ as the general community need to know most about suicide, in terms of our ability to help prevent it, Bancroft says there are two things to focus on. One is that we all have a role to play in preventing suicide. If you hear someone you love talking about self-harm and / or hopelessness, let them know about appropriate mental health resources. “It’s not your job to actually solve the problem but we all need to do our part to help get people to the resources they need.” In some cases, that’s therapy, access to a crisis line, to a doctor, or to any mental health provider. All mental health providers know the steps that need to be taken once a concern is brought forward. The key is to get the person in touch with the right resources.

It’s also important that we create the kind of environment – in all aspects of our lives – where people feel comfortable bringing concerns forward.  At Hanna that translates to building strong relationships with the kids. “It’s important when we think about kids in particular that they trust us as the adults in their lives, that they know they can talk to us. We want them to bring their concerns forward so we can address them and talk about them.” The worst thing is for people to suffer in silence. If we don’t know what someone is thinking we can’t help – and if we can’t help, we can’t prevent.

Suicide is part of a continuum of self-harm (think of bad habits or other self-diminishing behaviors that we all exhibit to some degree) and Bancroft says it’s important that we don’t think of suicide/crisis/depression as something that only happens to ‘crazy’ or ‘bad’ people. That thinking further stigmatizes suicide and prevents people from talking about mental health and getting the help they need.

Suicide prevention is so important. It’ something that is routinely taught to mental health providers because of the danger of harm but it’s more than that. “With crisis comes opportunity for positive change; people are willing to try and to change in ways they might not in less stressful situations.”

If you or someone you love needs help – talk to any mental health professional – or call the Sonoma County Crisis Stabilization Unit (24/7) at 707.576.8181 or the Boys Town National Hotline (24/7) at 800.448.3000

Bob Bancroft  has thirty plus years of experience  in residential, school based and clinic based psychotherapy.  He has trained entry level and Masters level students in Suicide/ Crisis intervention.