Know the facts: Sui­cide can be pre­vented

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Me­lanie Dal­las LPC

Sui­cide has al­ways been puz­zling and tragic. Psy­chi­a­trists, psy­chol­o­gists and es­pe­cially those who have lost a loved one to sui­cide of­ten don’t un­der­stand how an in­di­vid­ual might per­ceive daily life to be so un­bear­able that he or she would choose death. And when sui­cide oc­curs, the tragedy is not only in the loss of a hu­man life and the grief of those left be­hind, but also in the fact that in many cases sui­cide can be pre­vented.

While sui­cide among vet­er­ans has re­ceived much at­ten­tion and re­sources — as it should — equally tragic are sui­cides among young peo­ple. In fact, sui­cide is the sec­ond lead­ing cause of death for young peo­ple ages 10 to 24 in the U.S. Each day, an av­er­age of 12 young peo­ple com­plete sui­cide, while more than 1,000 at­tempt it.

Com­pound­ing the prob­lem are many myths about sui­cide — myths that lead many to be­lieve there is noth­ing they can do to pre­vent the sui­cide of a friend or fam­ily mem­ber. Two of the most com­mon myths are that peo­ple con­tem­plat­ing sui­cide — es­pe­cially young peo­ple —give no warn­ing signs, and that talk­ing to some­one about sui­cide is more likely to make him or her do it.

But in fact four out of five teens who at­tempt sui­cide have given clear warn­ing signs. One of the most im­por­tant warn­ing signs is talk­ing about sui­cide. Equally im­por­tant, if you hear some­one talk­ing about sui­cide, ask­ing about it does not make him or her more likely to at­tempt it. Rather, ask­ing about it can of­ten be the first crit­i­cal step in pre­vent­ing it.

High­land Rivers Health is a re­cip­i­ent of a Gar­rett Lee Smith sui­cide pre­ven­tion grant from the Sub­stance Abuse and Men­tal Health Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion. The pro­gram — which was de­vel­oped fol­low­ing the sui­cide of for­mer Ore­gon Sen­a­tor Gor­don Smith’s son Gar­rett in 2003 — al­lows High­land Rivers to pro­vide en­hanced sui­cide pre­ven­tion ser­vices in the ar­eas we serve. Those ser­vices in­clude:

Early de­tec­tion: High­land Rivers works with com­mu­nity part­ners to cre­ate a cul­ture of sup­port to pre­vent sui­cide at­tempts and com­ple­tions in our com­mu­ni­ties through early de­tec­tion and re­fer­ral. We pro­vide as­sess­ments to ad­dress risk fac­tors and re­fer­rals to com­mu­nity sup­port or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Ther­apy: We have trained pro­fes­sion­als who treat and min­i­mize sui­cide risk fac­tors. A li­censed clin­i­cian and peer spe­cial­ist are avail­able to meet with in­di­vid­u­als who re­port sui­cide risk fac­tors and their fam­ily mem­bers. Staff have been trained to as­sess and man­age sui­ci­dal­ity and use in­ter­ven­tions to in­crease rea­sons for liv­ing.

Sup­port: We help loss sur­vivors re­cover af­ter the death or sui­cide at­tempt of a loved one through group ther­apy ses­sions and com­mu­nity sup­port pro­grams.

Ed­u­ca­tion: High­land Rivers pro­vides free train­ings for com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions, schools, col­leges, health­care providers and oth­ers so they can learn to de­tect sui­cide risk and in­ter­vene. A twohour Ques­tion, Per­suade, Re­fer train­ing can be sched­uled at your lo­ca­tion or you can at­tend other QPR train­ings be­ing of­fered in the area. This im­por­tant and in­for­ma­tive train­ing can help you, co­work­ers, stu­dents or friends learn how to help some­one who is think­ing about sui­cide. And it’s free.

If you are in­ter­ested in sched­ul­ing a QPR train­ing for your or­ga­ni­za­tion, school, work­place or com­mu­nity group, email us at ZeroSui­cide@high­ If you or some­one you know is think­ing about sui­cide and would like to speak with a pro­fes­sional coun­selor, call us at (800) 7295700 to learn how to en­roll in ser­vices with our agency.

It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that sui­cide can al­most al­ways be pre­vented. By be­com­ing aware of the risk fac­tors and warn­ing signs — and more im­por­tant, learn­ing how to in­ter­vene to help some­one who may be think­ing about sui­cide — we can work to­ward re­duc­ing the num­ber of sui­cides in our com­mu­ni­ties to zero.

Me­lanie Dal­las is a li­censed pro­fes­sional coun­selor and CEO of High­land Rivers Health, which pro­vides treat­ment and re­cov­ery ser­vices for in­di­vid­u­als with men­tal ill­ness, sub­stance use dis­or­ders, and in­tel­lec­tual and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties in a 12-county re­gion of north­west Geor­gia that in­cludes Bar­tow, Chero­kee, Floyd, Fan­nin, Gilmer, Gor­don, Har­al­son, Mur­ray, Pauld­ing, Pick­ens, Polk and Whit­field coun­ties.

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