(Photo: Getty Images/Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)

(Photo: Getty Images/Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)

Suicide is terrible. I'm grateful people are talking about it and that there are hotline numbers people can copy and paste on their Facebook pages.

The best thing we can do with loss is to look inward and explore what it means for us. Usually it happens on an individual level but in this case it affected a good part of the western world.

There's no tactful way to put this but a lot of the recent posts remind me of everyone googling Maya Angelou quotes when she died, that this whole experience, while reflective and raw for many, is for many others somehow adjacent to slacktivism.

It is awesome that you are posting publicly you are available to chat with someone who is depressed and suicidal. I believe you and I believe you mean it.

But if you want to take it a step further, establish patterns of communication and emotional infrastructure to make yourself more accessible to people in your life whose main symptom of their illness is believing that nothing, not even talking to you or calling a 1800 number, can make the situation any better.

When I worked at USDA one thing I learned is that the world produces enough food to feed everyone, but we lack the infrastructure to get it to the places that need it the most.

I believe everyone's hearts are in the right place but we lack the infrastructure to effectively open those difficult and important conversations.

Before asking someone, "are you OK?" - ask yourself, are you asking for your sake or for theirs? Are you asking in an environment where you can hold space and dedicate time to someone who may be on the verge of suicide or deeply depressed? Or are you asking to relieve your own anxiety about your social responsibility, as if to somehow put your own mind at ease?

What if you don't have time for a deep and meaningful? In the mean time, ask open ended questions that require a thoughtful response. It can be about anything, "what did you think of that movie? How was your day? How are things going at work? How is your relationship?"

At least then you'll get valuable insight in the people in your life, even if you don't think they're depressed. You'll connect. And if the time comes, you may be the one your friend opens up to or feels comfortable reaching out to.

To anyone reading this, your role in suicide prevention is more than perfunctory. It's taking a genuine interest in the all the people in your lives and supporting them appropriately. It's paying attention and having conversations without agenda and calculation, not the kind where you're just waiting for your turn to speak next.

And, if you really are worried about your loved one, don't ask "are you ok?" Just don't. 
Instead ask, "how are you?" and mean it. If someone raw and fragile starts to open up, and you shut them down or have to run off to your next appointment, that may be it. They may not even bother opening up to the next person, because what's the point? He might run off too, or make it about himself. Or offer suggestions and solutions when all that is needed in that moment is to be heard, seen, and possibly understood.