September is designated annually as Suicide Prevention Month but, in our area, it is a year round mission to create a Zero Suicide Community by the year 2020. We want our loved ones alive! The International Association for Suicide Prevention's theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is "Take a minute, change a life.” They have offered five simple steps in their “Take 5 to Save Lives” campaign and, by taking 5 minutes to get involved and become informed, you will be part of a worldwide movement to save lives.
1. Learn the signs - Take a few minutes to learn the warning signs of suicide.
2. Do your part - Everyone has a role in preventing suicide. What's yours?
3. Practice self-care - Make mental wellness a priority in your life.
4. Reach out - Help is available and recovery is possible.
5. Spread the word - Pledge to tell 5 people about Take 5
Suicide is complex and does not have one cause or solution but it is known that thoughts of hopelessness may lead to suicidal thoughts in some people. Suicide crosses all financial, racial, gender and age categories so we worry about our seniors, Veterans, middle aged men, young people, construction workers and attorneys, among others. Please take a few moments to learn a bit more about how to save a life today.
Some risk factors may include:
- Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders
- Alcohol and other substance use disorders
- Impulsive and / or aggressive tendencies
- History of trauma or abuse
- Major physical illnesses
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Family history of suicide
- Loss (job, financial, relationship)
- Easy access to lethal means
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation
- Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)
- Lack of access to behavioral health care
Warning signs that indicate a need to take immediate action may include:
- Talking about wanting to die or to killing oneself
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Giving away possessions
The good news, is that there are also multiple protective factors that support people and may be readily available.
- Effective behavioral health care
- Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions
- Life skills (including problem solving skills and coping skills, ability to adapt to change)
- Self-esteem and a sense of purpose or meaning in life
- Cultural, religious, or personal beliefs that discourage suicide
Some local resources include:
- The Georgia Crisis and Access Line is available 24/7 /365 for help for problems with developmental disabilities, mental health, drugs or alcohol. Trained behavioral health professionals can provide resource support as well as on site intervention if someone is threatening to hurt themselves, increases alcohol or drug use, engages in reckless behaviors or feels hopeless. They can be reached at 800-715-4225.
- Text GA to 741741 for the Crisis Text Line.
- School-based mental health services (APEX) are available in several Newton County Schools (Yuki Reese 678-416-5037).
- Early detection, education, therapy and support is available through a Zero Suicide grant (Larry Evans 678-221-1096)
- Free QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) trainings can be scheduled with your group at your convenience. (Larry Evans 678.221.1096 or Jennifer Wilds 770-856-8034).
- Project AWARE through Newton County Schools works with youth and adult peer leaders to identify Sources of Strength and provide free Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings to community members and partners (Adrienne Boisson 770-784-2364).
- Education, resources and advocacy are available through the Newton / Rockdale Suicide Prevention Coalition (Jennifer Wilds 770-856-8034).
The most critical component is you. You can save a life by listening, by asking questions if you think someone is at risk, by knowing the resources that are available, by reducing access to lethal means (prescriptions, firearms, knives), getting connected to treatment for yourself or helping find treatment for loved ones and getting people connected to enjoyable community activities and events.
Jennifer Wilds works with View Point Health and is involved with multiple professional affiliations including multiple Local Interagency Planning Teams, Chairperson of the Newton / Rockdale Suicide Prevention Coalition, local Drug Free Community Coalitions, and Project AWARE grants. She is a certified trainer for QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) and Youth Mental Health First Aid and is an advocate for youth and families on personal, county and state levels.