Did you know that pets help promote good mental health and, in some cases, can help prevent suicide?
“Our pets are often the one being in our lives that doesn’t, they don’t judge us, they love us unconditionally” says Karen Heisig from the CNY chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “They are there for us when we need them so everybody that has a pet, for the most part, that pet plays a big role in their mental health and how they’re feeling.”
The chapter is hosting Paws for Prevention through the end of May to help raise awareness of pets and the role they play in supporting our mental health. Walk, run, hike, meditate, or just snuggle with your pet and log your activity minutes for a chance to win prizes. There’s also a pet photo contest where every $1 donation is equal to a vote for your pet.
Heisig says the warning signs that someone is considering suicide can be subtle. Changes in how they talk, in their behavior and/or in their mood can indicate they might need help. Suicide is the 10th overall leading cause of death in the U.S. but the majority of the deaths could likely have been prevented.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers prevention tools, educational resources and programs that can help. Cats, dogs and other pets have been proven to help, too.
“If they’re having a down day, their pet is going to listen” adds Heisig. “It’s not going to respond. It’s not going to give them any judgement or anything and it’s just nice at the end of the day to curl up with another being that is warm and furry sort of speak!”
If you’re in need of talking with someone immediately, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.