We’ve all heard about a “cry for help.”

A statement from Children and Family Services of Northwest Michigan called it an “invitation.”

An invitation may be hard to spot, they advise. It might sound unkind. It might sound like a joke. It might be socially awkward.

But knowing an invitation when you hear one, and addressing it with frank talk may save someone who is contemplating suicide.

Tip-toeing around suicide isn’t helping. Advocates say that we need to say the word.

“The more we talk about it, the more we normalize it, the more we say the word ‘suicide,’ the more we educate and the more awareness we create — the more lives we’re going to save,” said Janeen Wardie, organizer of this Saturday’s Out the Darkness Walk, which starts at 11 a.m. at the Open Space.

The number of suicide deaths, and its climbing trajectory, is “alarming,” according to the American Psychological Association.

Deaths by suicide in the United States jumped 30 percent between 2000 and 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

It is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-35, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

We know this number in a way we hope other communities never will.

Suicide deaths of young people in our region have broken our collective hearts.

But hushed voices aren’t the way to address what is happening. We can get better at addressing the invitation.

Experts have pinpointed the kind of statements and behaviors that precede nearly all suicide attempts.

These are our invitations to a caring discussion where this question is asked: “Are you thinking about suicide?”

It’s OK to talk about it — and the conversation can start now.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available for immediate help at 1-800-273-TALK.