In honor of National Suicide Prevention Month, we are going to address suicide and the importance of awareness. Suicide is tragic and traumatizing. But, prevention, intervention, and postvention need to be consistently discussed in homes, schools, and communities.
Whether city or country dwellers, suicide needs to be addressed. Countywide and statewide, suicide education needs to be at the forefront.
A horrifying new report (*) that came out earlier in this year, revealing that Ohio's suicide rates have grown over the past decade and not by a slim margin.
According to this study, there were 15,246 suicide deaths in Ohio over the 10-year span from 2008 to 2017. The research indicates the suicide rate within Ohio’s younger population (29 and younger) has increased by 33 percent since 2008. And between 2008 and 2017, 161 suicides occurred among those 14 years of age or younger.
Suicide Prevention awareness, education, and programming has certainly increased throughout Ohio in recent years… however, it’s not enough and statistics from the Ohio Violent Death Reporting System are still troubling:
So what can be done? In my professional opinion, more should be done in the schools to bring awareness to the importance of taking care of our mental health.
Because children and teens spend most of their day at school, it just makes sense to have mental health awareness and education become part of the curriculum. When we empower students with knowledge, and encourage dialogue, students will be able to get the help they need.
Schools, teachers and administrators can work to promote awareness with their students. Key elements to shine a light on include the concept of self-care and responsibility for one's own mental health and wellness, with an emphasis on the fact that mental health is an integral part of health, and the concept of recovery from mental illness.
Teachers and students should be provided with ways to recognize signs of developing mental health problems, and there should be opportunities around the awareness and management of mental health crises, including the risk of suicide or self-harm. Further, instruction should address the relationship between mental health, substance abuse, and other negative coping behaviors, as well as the negative impact of stigma and cultural attitudes toward mental illness. And there's really no excuse to not make mental health a mandatory part of everyday curriculum. There are not-for-profit programs out there that will help guide schools on how to do this, and these programs often cost NOTHING or very little. So if our schools can add these programs for next to nothing, why isn't it happening? And if you are a school administrator, teacher, or parent and want to know how to find these programs, call us. We will tell you!
So what can YOU do?
BE AWARE OF THE WARNING SIGNS
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, get the facts and take appropriate action. More importantly, get help immediately should you witness, hear, or see anyone exhibiting any one or more of the following:
Possible warning signs:
WAYS TO BE HELPFUL TO SOMEONE WHO IS THREATENING SUICIDE
If this is an emergency...
Your life is extremely valuable, and people care about you. If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger of harming him or herself, please call 911 immediately. Stay on the phone with the operator and wait for help to arrive. Otherwise, if you have suicidal thoughts or feelings of complete hopelessness, please contact us or another mental health professional as soon as possible. You can also call the suicide hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE, 24 hours per day.
Depression is a disorder that can be treated! Please reach out for help!
*A new study on suicide in Ohio was released by The Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health (the alliance includes 28 partner organizations). Additional resources for the study included the Bureau of Vital Statistics, the Ohio Death Certificate File and the Centers for Disease Control. The Ohio University’s College of Health Services and Professions summarized results in a news release.
On this day, we felt it was important to share what the International Association for Suicide Prevention has written for this years World Suicide Prevention Day. The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds. Up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt. The tragic ripple effect means that there are many, many more people who have been bereaved by suicide or have been close to someone who has tried to take his or her own life. And this is happening in spite of the fact that suicide is preventable. 'Connect, communicate, care' is the theme of the 2016 World Suicide Prevention Day. These three words are at the heart of suicide prevention.
Fostering connections with those who have lost a loved one to suicide or have been suicidal themselves is crucial to furthering suicide prevention efforts. Although every individual suicide is different, there are some common lessons to be learned. Those who have been on the brink of suicide themselves can help us understand the complex interplay of events and circumstances that led them to that point, and what saved them or helped them to choose a more life-affirming course of action. Those who have lost someone to suicide, or supported someone who was suicidal, can provide insights into how they moved forwards on their journey. The sheer numbers of people who have been affected by suicide would make this a formidable network.
Of course, these connections should be two-way. There will often be times when those who have been bereaved by suicide, and those who might be feeling suicidal themselves, need support. Keeping an eye out for them and checking that they are okay could make all the difference. Social connectedness reduces the risk of suicide, so being there for someone who has become disconnected can be a life-saving act. Connecting them with formal and informal supports may also help to prevent suicide. Individuals, organizations and communities all have a responsibility here.
Open communication is vital if we are to combat suicide. In many communities, suicide is shrouded in silence or spoken of only in hushed tones. We need to discuss suicide as we would any other public health issue if we are to dispel myths about it and reduce the stigma surrounding it. This is not to say that we shouldn’t exercise necessary caution; we don’t want to normalize suicide either. Careful, considered messages about suicide and its prevention are warranted, as is an awareness of how different groups of individuals may receive and interpret this information.
Equipping people to communicate effectively with those who might be vulnerable to suicide is an important part of any suicide prevention strategy. Broaching the subject of suicide is difficult, and these sorts of conversations are often avoided. There are some simple tips that can help, however. Most of these relate to showing compassion and empathy, and listening in a non-judgemental way. People who have come through an episode of extreme suicidal thinking often say that sensitively-managed conversations with others helped them on their course to recovery.
All the connecting and communicating in the world will have no effect without the final ingredient – care. We need to make sure that policy-makers and planners care enough about suicide prevention to make it a priority, and to fund it at a level that is commensurate with its significance as a public health problem.
We need to make sure that clinicians and other service providers care enough about it to make suicide prevention their core business. And we need to make sure that communities care enough about it to be able to identify and support those who may be at heightened risk.
Most of all, we need to ensure that we are caring ourselves. We need to look out for others who may be struggling, and let them tell their story in their own way and at their own pace. Those who have been affected by suicide have much to teach us in this regard.
Connect, communicate and care on World Suicide Prevention Day
On September 10th, join with others around the world who are working towards the common goal of preventing suicide. Check in on someone you may be concerned about, and start a caring conversation with them, asking them how they’re going. Investigate ways of connecting with others who are trying to prevent suicide in your community, your country, or internationally. Show your support by taking part in the International Association for Suicide Prevention's Cycle Around the Globe.
Are you looking for couples counseling because you are concerned about your relationship?
Are you serious about saving or improving your relationship?
Worried that your marriage may not make it over the long term?
Are you tired of arguing, bickering or worse – the silent treatment?
Perhaps you are struggling in your marriage or long-term relationship. Maybe you have reached a place of being sick and tired of the same old arguments that repeat themselves over and over again. The anger, resentment and dissatisfaction may have you thinking to yourself: “Is this really worth it?” Try and you might, attempts to fix your relationship problems just don’t seem to be working. The criticism, blaming and apathy have reached a point where the both of you are completely over it. And while there still may be love between you, it just doesn’t seem like it will be enough to make positive change.
If all of this sounds familiar, you have come to the right place. We are committed to helping couples who may be in conflict find productive ways to move past the hurts, heal the wounds and strengthen important relational bonds. Check us out here for more information.