It's a problem we don't want to think about but one that can leave us with a lifetime of regret if we fail to act.
That's why mental health officials are observing National Suicide Prevention Week this week, Sept. 6-12.
There is good reason to be concerned.
* Every 16 minutes, someone in the United States takes his or her own life.
* There are twice as many suicides in America as there are homicides.
* Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents ages 15-24 and for the first time in 10 years the rates are climbing
* More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have depression or another diagnosable mental illness or substance abuse disorder.
* Substance abuse may be involved in half of all cases.
"We want to make sure that someone who is thinking of taking his or her life knows every available option to combat their feeling of hopelessness," said Scot Adams, director of the Division of Behavioral Health in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
"Their friends and loved ones need to know the warning signs, too, so they can intervene and help prevent a suicide."
Warning signs include persistent sadness and depression, excessive anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, talking about suicide, abusing drugs or alcohol, excessive irritability or anger, difficulty paying attention or staying focused and possibly giving away prized possessions.
"The good news is, there is help," Adams said. "If you or someone you know is struggling, talking to a confidential resource about your feelings or a suspicion you may have about a loved one can make a difference." Call the National Suicide Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255) for help, he said.
The state's new Network of Care Web site provides vital information about treatment resources, insurance, advocacy and other behavioral health Web sites. It can be found at www.dhhs.ne.gov/networkofcare/ Another good site is www.whatadifference.org
If you or someone you know exhibits the warning signs, reach out for help. There is no reason for the despair to continue.