Area Celebrates National Suicide Prevention Month

 September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month and Hancock County Health System (HCHS) and Senior Life Solutions is working to raise awareness and educate the community on the risk factors and warning signs of suicide.

“Talk of suicide should never be dismissed,” said Heidi Metz, HCHS’s Senior Life Solutions Director. “If you, or someone you know, are thinking of suicide, please get help and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.”

HCHS offers Senior Life Solutions, an intensive outpatient group therapy program that offers both in person and teletherapy services designed to meet the unique needs of senior adults. HCHS also provides mental health services with Ashley Shelanski, PhD, LMHC; Amber Nielsen, LISW; and Brian Vold from HCHS Clinics.

“It is important to reach people early.  We know it can be difficult to ask for help, but by educating our community we hope we can show people that it is okay to reach out and ask for help for themselves or a loved one,” said Jillian Carpenter, LMSW, Program Therapist for Senior Life Solutions.

Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide and they are important to be aware of, according to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Several risk factors can include:

  • A preexisting mental disorder
  • Alcohol or substance use disorder
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • Major physical illness
  • Job or financial loss
  • Loss of relationship(s)
  • Access to lethal means
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation

“The stigma associated with asking for help and a lack of health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment can also pose as risk factors to an individual,” Carpenter said.  “We work to lessen the stigma and increase access to behavioral healthcare.”

Knowing these warning signs may help determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

For more information, or if an older loved one is in need of help, call HCHS’s Senior Life Solutions program: 641-843-5300.

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