Sacrifice. Be bold. Take a chance.


Have you ever witnessed someone within your family, your workplace, your church or your community of friends who may not appear to being themselves? Have you noticed someone who just doesn't seem to be happy at work? Have you noticed one of your children spending time in their bedroom alone and isolated? Have you noticed someone at your church who seemed to be in tears? Have you noticed one of your friends who may be struggling?


Maybe he/ she is out of work due to the coronavirus or is struggling with a family matter?


Imagine receiving a call from a friend who shares with you he/ she is experiencing depression. What do you do?


These are just a few of real-life situations happening among our community. With the help of an action plan called Be Nice, you have a tool to help you to move from a concerned observer to an active life guard. This article is not necessarily for the 20 percent of us who suffer with a mental illness, but is more intended for the 80 percent of us who do not know what it's like to deal with depression, or worse yet, struggle with the ideation of suicide (the thought of taking one's own life).


First, notice what is good and right about the person. If you are working with the person (we'll call Sam for the purpose of this article), you probably already know what makes him tick. You have seen what makes Sam special with respect to his personal and professional attributes.


Let's say you don't work with Sam, but he is a friend of a friend.


You've never met him.


Can you really help him?


Absolutely! How? Ask questions such as; "When you're not working, Sam, what do you like to do?"


Do you normally like to be with other people or do you normally like to be alone? How much sleep do you normally get per night Sam?"


By asking a few questions, you can uncover what Sam likes to do.


Now, we need to assess if Sam's behavior has changed from what he normally enjoys doing.


"Sam, you mentioned you like to go fishing in your free time and you mentioned that you do it every weekend. When is the last time that you went fishing?" If Sam answers, "Not for the past several weeks," that may be a sign of depression. If someone exhibits a change in behavior for two weeks or longer, it's time to take notice for their well- being. If someone exhibits four or more major changes in their behavior, suicide ideation might be taking place.


What's next? Invite yourself to have a loving, caring conversation with Sam to let him know you have noticed these changes in his behavior and you are concerned about his well- being. When Sam hears from you about your genuine concern for him, he will appreciate your personal interest.


Then it's time to challenge. This is the "sacrifice, being bold or taking a chance" of Be Nice. If Sam exhibited a number of noticeable changes in his behavior, it's time to ask the tough question: "Sam, I care for you and I'm concerned about your well- being. Are you thinking of killing yourself?" Sam will appreciate your question because he has been living with this silent disease for too long with the possibility of no one noticing. The question does not give Sam a green light to take his own life - quite the opposite. Sam is relieved someone cares and recognizes his personal mental health struggles.


Next, based on Sam's response, it's time to empower yourself to get Sam professional help based on his responses to your questions. If Sam needs immediate help because he said he wants to end his life, Sam needs a ride to the hospital emergency room or call 911. Other resources are the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.


You, too, can be a lifeguard for today's fastest- growing mental health epidemic.


However, it's one life at a time. A co- worker, a friend or a stranger.


Take the steps to be bold and take a chance.


All it takes is a little of your personal time to sacrifice to go from a bystander to a lifeguard.


Learn more at benice.org. Take the 12-minute video pledge to Be Nice.

- Jeff Elhart is Playground Director II of the Elhart Automotive Campus in Holland. 

For more information, contact benice@elhart.com