Un­der­stand­ing the risk fac­tors for sui­cide

Serve Daily - - COMMUNITY - By Marla Bran­num for Serve Daily

Edi­tor’s Note: This ar­ti­cle is part of an on­go­ing se­ries on sui­cide pre­ven­tion.

Happy Hol­i­days! Happy New Year! Great greet­ings for many, but it can be a very dif­fi­cult time for oth­ers. The hol­i­days can be a dif­fi­cult time of year for those who strug­gle with de­pres­sion, sui­ci­dal thoughts, other men­tal health prob­lems or have ex­pe­ri­enced a loss, es­pe­cially from sui­cide. Sta­tis­tics show that sui­cide is a sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic health prob­lem. But sta­tis­tics don’t tell the whole story of those im­pacted by sui­cide. The chal­lenge is that there isn’t just one cause for sui­cide or clear an­swers on how we can help.

Utah has higher av­er­age sui­cide rates than the na­tional av­er­age, but no one knows why. Let’s start by dis­cussing who is af­fected. Sui­cide is the lead­ing cause of death for Utahn’s ages 10 to 24. Men have higher sui­cide rates than women; al­most 3 times the rate. In fact, Utah’s highest rates of sui­cide are not our youth, but men ages 45-54, and 75 and older. This ar­ti­cle can’t ex­plain all the pos­si­ble rea­sons for these rates but we can dis­cuss what is be­ing done and how we can help.

With sui­cide pre­ven­tion, it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand risk fac­tors and pro­tec­tive fac­tors. One of the pro­tec­tive fac­tors we have is a strong fam­ily and/or com­mu­nity con­nec­tion. You can help by reach­ing out to those around you and help them rec­og­nize their value to you, their fam­ily, and the com­mu­nity. Ad­di­tion­ally, we need to learn to rec­og­nize the warn­ing signs for those at risk of sui­cide. These could be ver­bal com­ments, how they act, or find­ing them­selves in dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions. The more warn­ing signs you ob­serve, the higher the risk and the more help they need. But what are these signs? And how do you rec­og­nize them? Some ob­vi­ous signs are threat­en­ing to hurt or kill him/ her­self, ex­plor­ing ways to kill him/her­self, and talk­ing or writ­ing about death, dy­ing or sui­cide. There are other signs that may be more sub­tle.

If you want to know about sui­cide pre­ven­tion, or do more to help, there are proven pro­grams avail­able. In Utah County, a sui­cide pre­ven­tion pro­gram called Q.P.R. is avail­able for free. QPR stands for Ques­tion, Per­suade, and Re­fer. In this free one-hour work­shop, par­tic­i­pants are taught to be “gate­keep­ers” by learn­ing how to help oth­ers strug­gling with sui­ci­dal thoughts. Par­tic­i­pants are taught the warn­ing signs to look for of some­one in cri­sis and how they can help. Of­ten­times, those in cri­sis won’t ask for help be­cause they don’t think any­thing can help. In this QPR work­shop, you will leave with knowl­edge and tools to help you know how to help oth­ers. If you are in­ter­ested in a free work­shop, you can con­tact Marla Bran­num at the Utah County Health Depart­ment at 801-851-7513.

Dur­ing the hol­i­days, re­mem­ber to take care of your­self. You can’t help oth­ers if you aren’t tak­ing care of your­self. Get enough sleep, eat well, stay hy­drated, and try to get in some ex­er­cise to help re­duce your stress. Un­der­stand that, some­times this time of year can be stress­ful and al­low for that. Try to rec­og­nize your lim­its and com­mu­ni­cate your needs. Friends and fam­ily may want to help, but do not know what you need.

If you are strug­gling, please reach out to one of the free help lines. The SafeUT app is avail­able 24/7 and avail­able to any­one. The Na­tional Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Life­line is 800-273-8255 (800-273-talk). Utah County’s cri­sis line is 801-373- 7393.

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