You are part of public health concerns

The woman could not find a reason to continue living. She had some mental health issues, had some alcohol problems in the past, but now was living a reclusive life, isolated by the mistakes she made during her lifetime. She didn’t seem to understand “forgiveness.” She’d snapped at her sister who looked for the good in people, “Stop making excuses for people!”

This woman felt empty, hopeless. She talked about wanting to be with her mother, just wanting to die and be with her mother. She couldn’t see any solutions. Her sister would be there until the crisis passed, then she’d be alone again. She couldn’t see that she had isolated herself, that she had expected too much from others but had given too little of herself to them. How could she see anything when she felt trapped. She didn’t eat right. She couldn’t sleep in her bed so she slept in her recliner.

She began to put her affairs in order and planned her death.

This woman is a fiction character but she could be anyone who is contemplating suicide because of whatever reasons. This is National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 9-15). This major public health concern is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15-34.

Risk factors include depression and other mental disorders or substance use disorders, certain medical conditions, chronic pain, family violence including physical or sexual abuse, to name a few. It may also follow being released from prison or jail, or a history of suicide in the family. Women are more likely to attempt suicide, but men are more likely than women to die by suicide. You can read the statistics online at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH.)

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) advises that one person dies by suicide every 12 minutes in the U.S., adding that is more than homicide and AIDS combined and of car crashes. With each actual suicide death there are 25 or more attempted suicides.

Suicide, intimate partner violence and trauma are often interrelated, SAMHSA says. Each year there are more than 900,000 emergency department visits made by people thinking of suicide. Risk of suicide attempts and death is highest within the first 30 days after release from the emergency room or an inpatient psychiatric unit.

“Individual trauma results from an event, series of events or set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being,” SAMHSA advises. Survivors of childhood trauma are at risk of attempted suicide.

NIMH advises five action steps when you are concerned that a loved one is considering suicide:

ASK: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not easy to ask this question. Asking does not increase their risk.

KEEP THEM SAFE: Reduce access to highly lethal items and places. Again, it’s not easy to ask if they have a plan or to remove or disable lethal means.

BE THERE: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.

HELP THEM CONNECT: The national suicide prevention hotline, 800-273-8255; Columbiana County, 330-424-7767 or 800-427-3606; for military service veterans, 800-273-8255, Press 1. Crisis Text Line: 741741;

STAY CONNECTED: Check up on your friend or loved one who is at risk. It has been shown that this reduces suicide deaths. Everyone needs to feel connected to other people.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

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