By- Dr. David Prescott
Suicide Prevention Efforts Highlighted by U.S. Army: Last week, the United States Army conducted a suicide prevention stand down to focus its efforts on promoting good health, reducing the risk of suicide, and training soldiers in resilience. As has been publicized and acknowledged by the Army, 120 deaths by suicide have occurred in 2012, with another 67 under investigation.
Family, Friends and Colleagues are Often the Gateway to Help: One interesting fact was highlighted in the Army's careful attention to this problem. In the majority of cases where a person considering suicide was identified and helped, the person at risk first talked to a friend, colleague, or family member. Friends and families were able to assist the person considering suicide in obtaining professional help. Thus, early recognition by non-professionals appears to be a critical link in preventing suicides.
Suicide Prevention in Maine: In the last year that data are available (2009), Maine had a rate of 15.4 suicides per 100,000 people each year, which is above the national average of 13.7. Maine's Department of Health and Human Services has put significant effort into suicide prevention in general and youth suicide prevention in particular. Information is available at http://maine.gov/suicide.
Possible Warning Signs of Suicide:
There is no sure way to predict who is at highest risk for suicide. But, some frequent signs include:
· Change in Mood or Behavior: Significant changes in a person's mood or behavior may signify a broader psychological problem. Depression is the mood change most closely associated with suicide. Changes like this shouldn't be ignored, but should be talked about, preferably with a counselor or mental health professional.
· Talking about suicide or death: Most people who attempt suicide have talked about it. Becoming preoccupied with suicide or death is often a warning sign of increased risk.
· Loss, breakup, or high stress event: One factor which increases risk for suicide is a significant loss, such as a relationship breakup. Or, a high stress event such as not getting into a preferred college, bad grades, or trouble with the law is often associated with an increase in thought of suicide.
· Substance use: Using alcohol or drugs impairs judgment and decision making. Many suicides occur while people are using, or have recently been using such substances.
Steps to Take:
Talk about suicide, or any of the warning signs, should be taken seriously and brought to a mental health professional. Some steps to keep in mind include:
If someone talks about suicide, help them find professional assistance: Counseling and psychotherapy can help work through a moment of crisis, but also resolve some of the problems which contribute to increased risk for suicide.
Reduce or eliminate substance use: One step in reducing risk for suicide is to reduce use of alcohol or other substances.
Take away ready access to weapons or pills: Families are often asked to help by removing weapons or pills from ready access. In many cases, not having a means available helps the person think the problem through in a different way.
Find hope: One key to resolving preoccupation with suicide is to help a person find hope. Often, friends and family can help people keep a sense of realistic hope while problems are worked through.
Adult Crisis Line: 1-888-568-1112
Youth Crisis Line: 1-800-499-9130
Maine Youth Suicide Prevention: http://maine.gov/suicide
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
TV5 Forecast Center
Healthy Living: Preventing Suicide
By- Dr. David Prescott
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