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Archive for the ‘Suicide Prevention’ Category

suicide prevention month

Suicide is a significant problem in the military claiming the lives of 22 veterans each day.

Suicide also takes a tremendous toll on our society.  In 2013, 41,149 suicide deaths were reported in the US.  We could easily read these suicide rates and forget that every number represents not only a life lost, but also a broken family, and a community wounded with pain.  Each death leaves behind a group of hurting people.

There is no “one size fits all” solution to suicide.  People contemplate suicide for many different reasons:  substance abuse, divorce, family separation, financial matters, legal trouble, a major illness, depression, and many other reasons. While the causes vary, we can all show universal concern and support.

Here are some ways to help people at-risk of suicide.

  1. Be present.  Show your concern for people in pain.  Make time for the person who is hurting. Scripture shares that we need to “bear one another’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2).  Take time to help others through their days of difficulty.
  2. Listen.  Allow that person to say what is causing the pain.  Share the gift of silent listening and then you can guide your friend with wise counsel.
  3. Do something.  The Bible encourages us to be, “doers of the word, not hearers only…” (James 1:22).  Too often, people at-risk are so overwhelmed with depression, stress, or anguish that they don’t know where to turn next, give that person guidance.  Share resources that can help.  Take them to a doctor, pastor, or counselor.  Call the VA hospital.  Find a way to connect the person with assistance.  Take action.

September is Suicide Prevention Month.  Take time to talk with a friend who is down.  Share the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255.  It is a 24/7 resource with trained professionals ready to help people find encouragement and hope.

Make a difference by addressing the problem of suicide.  Demonstrate compassion and concern for those who are hurting.  Be available to friends in need and take time to listen.  The time you invest could save a life.

 

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Lifeline

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.  Suicide impacts every nation and every community on earth.  While the topic may be taboo in many circles, it is vital that people get involved to help those at risk of self harm.

As this day rolls up on the calendar, here are a few reminders to consider:

  • learn the warning signs of suicide
  • ask directly if you suspect someone is suicidal
  • care for the person at risk by listening
  • escort the person at risk to a helping agency or resource
  • know local and national resources

The last point is extremely important.  People should always have or know a phone number to dial in case a loved one is contemplating suicide.  If you or someone you know needs immediate help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support to people in crisis.  This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is operated by trained counselors throughout the nation.

Since 2007, the Lifeline has been providing special suicide prevention services for U.S. military veterans.  When dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255), veterans, service members, and their families are prompted, to press “1” to be connected to a veterans suicide prevention hotline specialist.  Know that these counselors are familiar with military issues and want the best care possible for America’s warriors.

Be sure to add this number to the contacts in your phone.  One phone call can save a life, so make time to remember the number, share it with a friend, or even volunteer at a local call center.  Caring professionals are always available to help.

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NPGAW

March 3-9 marks National Problem Gambling Week.

The goal of this campaign is to educate the general public, and health care professionals about the warning signs of problem gambling and raise awareness about the help that is available both locally and nationally.

Research finds that up to 3% of the US population will have a gambling problem. That equals 9 million Americans, yet only a small fraction seek out services, like treatment and self-help recovery programs.

Those with a gambling addiction are tough to identify and uniquely different from substance abuse addictions.  Gambling is connected to a fantasy.  Gamblers can also appear fully functional until they hit rock bottom.  There is no way to measure gambling in a scientific manner like urine, blood, or hair samples.  Gamblers tend to act alone or in secret from loved ones.  Another difficulty in finding those with the problem is that there is no saturation point for gambling.  Even professional can miss the signs until the final stages of loss and destruction.

These are critical discussion points because gamblers quickly turn to suicide.  If a problem gambler is isolating himself or herself, hiding financial losses, and lying about the issue, then family and friends may not even be aware of the problem until the person attempts suicide.

These tragic events are growing in our military communities and with veterans who have returned from war.  Recent studies show that 1 in 10 veterans have a problem or pathological gambling addiction.  And when you look at military suicide rates, financial problems are the second leading cause of suicide.  Veterans are another unique population because of service-related issues like combat stress reactions, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.  Gambling may not be the entire cause for suicide in the military, but it is one piece of the puzzle that we can address as a caring community.

No matter where you live, there is hope for those who suffer from gambling problems.  Encourage people to reach out for help.  Resources are available in every community.  Find a local or national resource to help problem gamblers.  Counselors are only one call or click away from saving a life.

You can find counselors and additional resources at:

National Problem Gambling Helpline 1-800-522-4700

Gamblers Anonymous www.gamblersanonymous.org

Military One Source 1-800-342-9647

Focus on the Family / faith-based counseling:  1-855-771-HELP (4357).

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President Obama signed an executive order directing federal agencies to expand suicide prevention strategies and improve access to mental health and substance abuse treatment for veterans, service members, and their families.

Citing an obligation to “build an integrated network of support capable of providing effective mental health services,” the order includes an array of directions for the Department  of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other federal agencies.  Collaboration with community-based providers, including community mental health clinics and substance abuse treatment facilities, was specifically required, particularly for areas where the Department of Veterans Affairs has had challenges in providing timely access to services for veterans.  In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services must expand the capacity of the Veterans Crisis Line by 50% and “ensure that any veteran identifying him or herself as being in crisis connects with a mental health professional or trained mental health worker within 24 hours.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs will also work with the Department of Defense to establish a national, 12-month suicide prevention campaign focused on connecting veterans to mental health services, officials reported.

To ensure veterans have access to these services, the executive order also calls on the VA and HHS to establish at least 15 pilot sites where VA can partner with local mental health providers. This initiative, officials said, will help ensure services are available in regions where VA has had trouble hiring or placing providers.

The order also directs VA and HHS to develop a plan to increase access to mental health care in rural communities.

The Veterans Crisis Line is a confidential hotline where veterans and family members can immediately connect with trained professionals during a time of crisis.  The toll-free hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

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Suicide is a monumental problem in our society and in the military. Currently, a member of the Armed Forces dies each day from suicide. We could easily read the suicide rates for 2012 and forget that every suicide statistic represents a life lost.  A death that leaves behind scores of hurting people.

There is no “one size fits all” solution to suicide. People contemplate suicide for many different reasons; increased alcohol and drug use, divorce, family dissolution, financial matters, legal trouble, an illness, depression, and many other reasons. While the causes vary, we can all show universal concern and support.

Here are some ways to help people at-risk of suicide.

1. Be present. Show your concern for people in pain.  Make time for the person who is hurting.  Scripture shares that we need to “bear one another’s burdens.” Take time to help through their days of difficulty.

2. Listen. Express compassion through listening and responding. Empathy is a great way to show concern to a person experiencing pain. Hear his or her concerns. Allow that person to say what is causing the pain.  Share the gift of silent listening and then you can guide your friend with wise counsel.

3. Do something about the problem. Too often, people at-risk are so overwhelmed with depression, grief, stress, or anguish that they don’t know where to turn next. Give that person guidance. Share resources that can help. Take them to a medic, chaplain, or counselor. Call the VA hospital. Find a way to connect the person with assistance. The Bible encourages us to be, “doers of the word, not hearers only.”  Take action, especially when it comes to the important issue of suicide.

Suicide impacts our state, our community, and National Guard units across the nation.  While causes will vary, we can all make a difference in addressing the problem.  Demonstrate compassion and concern for those who are hurting.  Take time and be available to friends in need.  The time and efforts you make can save a life.

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It is time to make a difference in your community.  It is time to stand with those who are suffering.

September is suicide prevention month.  Take time to find, list, and highlight organizations that can save a life.  Find out what resources are available in your community and share those resources.  No matter where you live, your community has access to a local, state, or national group that helps people at-risk of suicide.

Possible organizations include:  crisis centers, hospitals, churches, charities, call centers, veteran groups, along with schools and universities.  It is also important to know the warning signs and symptoms of people at risk.  Take time to educate yourself, take a class, or attend a survivors of suicide support group.

Suicide is a tremendous problem in our communities and our society.  It hurts spouses, children, parents, extended families, friends, and co-workers.  When it is all said and done, suicide impacts everyone.  Take action this September.  Make a difference in your community.  If you find a meaningful website, share it with your friends.  If you attend an ASIST class, tell people how to intervene.   Your actions and words of encouragement could help to save a life.

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Chaplains are pretty busy during Annual Training season in the National Guard.  Tuesday I gave another suicide prevention class.  It’s a requirement that Soldiers get the presentation at least once a year.  The training focuses on the magnitude of the problem, how common issues can drive anyone to the point of despair, and that everyone can watch out for your battle buddy.

While many try to pin the Army suicide issue on multiple deployments, the majority of issues that drive people to suicide are common issues:  failed relationships, financial difficulty, and legal woes.  These are typical factors that we see in the civilian population, at schools, in factories, and even in the church.  PTSD is a factor in military suicide, but it is not the top issue that Time magazine or other media outlets want you to believe.

The fundamental issue to remember is that everyone can save a life.  You probably survived a breakup, be it in high school, college, or at work.  You probably understand what it is like to bounce a check or have a tough time making your paycheck last the entire month.  We are all in the same boat.  We all have the life experience necessary to help people at risk of suicide.

Remember and apply ACE: Ask, Care, Escort.

If you believe that someone is at risk of suicide, ask him/her about the problem.  Find out what is going on in the person’s life.  Directly ask if he/she is thinking about suicide.  Care by listening to the issue.  Find out what is causing the pain and suffering.  Why is the Soldier upset?  Finally, escort the Soldier to a resource.  That can be a chaplain, a medic, a counselor, an NCO, a friend, or a family member.

Don’t leave the person alone.  Make sure that he or she gets help.  It is okay to call a suicide hotline or wake up a supervisor, just don’t ignore the warning signs.

You don’t have to be a mental health counselor to apply ACE.  You don’t have to be an expert.  But you can practice these basic steps in suicide first aid.  Do your part to reduce suicide and help your friends.

If you need immediate assistance these suicide hot lines are always available:

Military One Source – 1.877.995.5247 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1.800.273.TALK (8255).

 

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