September is designated Suicide Prevention Month, but it’s a year-round effort.
The Newton/Rockdale Suicide Prevention Coalition’s 2013 Student Health Surveys revealed some shocking local statistics: 1,107 children and teens from the sixth through 12th grades in the two counties “seriously considered” suicide in the past year, and 672 attempted it.
It’s the third-leading cause of death in ages 10-24 in Georgia.
“It is important for those in any profession and well as for elderly and youth populations to be mindful of the statements of their peers,” said Jennifer Wilds, assistant coordinator of Viewpoint Health and chair of the coalition.
Be a referee at home
The Suicide Prevention Coalition has released a new brochure asking residents to “referee what’s in your cabinet.” The message is as simple as it sounds. Often, leftover prescription drugs, alcohol, aerosols — even large doses of Tylenol — are used in suicides. Know where they are and be aware others in your house probably do, too. If someone at home is depressed or suicidal, seek help and rearrange the medicine cabinet.
Other “lethal means” perhaps located at home, the brochure says, are knives and razors, bleach, belts and ropes, antifreeze and coolants, and firearms. The key is awareness, Wilds said.
The new “QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) trainings … we would like to get out to any group that is interested in having us come,” she said. “Trainings are free and teach people to listen for potential cues from others around them and how to get them to the next step of a professional to help them.”
Wilds compares the new training program to the Heimlich maneuver or CPR. It helps participants recognize warning signs of suicide and how to “question, persuade and refer” someone to the help they need.
QPR is not counseling, nor treatment. Its intent is to offer “hope through positive action,” Wilds said. It’s free, members will travel to speak with groups upon request, and training can be customized from one to three hours depending upon the needs of each group.
For more information, visit qprinstiture.net or call 509-536-5100.
To schedule QPR training, call Susan Paul Smith at 770-761-1451 or Wilds at 770-856-8034.
Stats: local, state and national
Suicide numbers are scary no matter where you look. Every 13 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies by suicide. Every 32 seconds, someone attempts it.
The most recent numbers for the U.S. and Georgia are from 2011.
Nationwide: 10th leading cause of death
Georgia: 2nd leading cause of death ages 25-34
3rd leading cause of death ages 10-24
4th leading cause of death ages 35-44
4th leading cause of death ages 45-54
In the six eastern and metro counties (including Newton and Rockdale) that make up the Department of Behavioral Help and Development Disabilities’ Region 3, prevention specialists fielded 500 calls for help in July 2014.
What to do
Help is available.
First, if someone threatens or attempts suicide, call 911. Don’t dither.
For help with prevention, or just to have someone to talk to, residents of Newton and Rockdale counties can call Jennifer Wilds, chair of the Newton/Rockdale Suicide Prevention Coalition, at 770-856-8034; or Rena Glass-Dixon at 678-758-1806.
Help is also available at View Point Health. Payment is based on income if insurance is not available. Appointments may be made, but walk-ins are taken as well. The group has four local offices. Call the main number at 678-209-2411 for more information or to make an appointment.
You can also call the Georgia Crisis and Access Lien at 800-715-4225 or visit www.mygcal.com.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255. Web chats are available at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Suicide is not normally spontaneous. Here are some signs, courtesy of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
- Threatening to hurt oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself.
- Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills or other means.
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person.
- Feeling hopeless.
- Feeling rage or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking.
- Feeling trapped – like there is no way out.
- Increasing alcohol or drug use.
- Withdrawing from friends, family or society.
- Feeling anxious, agitates, unable to sleep or sleeping more often than normal.
- Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
- Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.