September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness month and the Cedar County Memorial Hospital Senior Life Solutions team is working to raise awareness and educate the community on the risk factors and warning signs of suicide. Talk of suicide should never be dismissed. If you, or someone you know, are thinking of suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
HELPING THE CAUSE — (From left) in photo: Hollee Walker, RN, BSN, Program Director; Allison O’Dell, LCSW; Brooke Malensek, LPC; Gayla West, Patient Coordinator; and Denise Johnson, Office Coordinator.
About Senior Life Solutions – Founded in 2003, Senior Life Solutions is managed by Psychiatric Medical Care (PMC), a leading behavioral healthcare management company. Focused on addressing the needs of rural and underserved communities, PMC manages inpatient behavioral health units, intensive outpatient programs, and telehealth services in more than 25 states. The company’s services provide evaluation and treatment for patients suffering from depression, anxiety, mood disorders, memory problems, post-traumatic stress disorder and other behavioral health issues.
“Suicide is preventable, and we can all be a part of that solution and prevention.” said Program Director, Hollee Walker, R.N. “Everyone can play a role by learning to recognize the warning signs, showing compassion, and offering support.”
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline states that knowing these warning signs may help determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide:
• Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
• Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious or agitated, behaving recklessly
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or isolating themselves
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Extreme mood swings
Suicide prevention starts with recognizing these warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think someone you know may be feeling suicidal, the best thing to do is ask. These conversations may feel difficult and uncomfortable, which is entirely normal. If you are uncertain of how to be there for someone in need, here are five action steps you can take according to the National Institute of Mental Health:
• Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question, but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
• Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.
• Be there: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Research suggests acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.
• Help them connect: Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) and the Crisis Text Line’s number (741741) in your phone, so it’s there when you need it. You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor or mental health professional.
• Stay connected: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline reminds us that suicide is not inevitable for anyone. By starting the conversation, providing support, and directing help to those who need it, we can prevent suicides and save lives.
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately. If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).
Senior Life Solutions is an intensive outpatient group therapy program designed to meet the unique needs of senior adults living with symptoms of age-related depression or anxiety, dealing with difficult life transitions, a recent chronic health diagnosis, or the loss of a loved one/spouse.
For more information, or if an older loved one is in need of help, call our Cedar County Memorial Hospital Senior Life Solutions team at (417) 876-3653.