September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
Treatment and Recovery can save lives
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources and stories to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic. We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It is also important to ensure individuals, friends, and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention.
Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.
Last year, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide. They leave behind friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide loss—often called suicide loss survivors—are left with feelings of shame and stigma preventing them from talking openly.
Knowing the Warning Signs
- Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Talking, writing or thinking about death
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
Recognizing Imminent Danger
Any person exhibiting these behaviors should get care immediately:
- Putting their affairs in order and giving away their possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Mood shifts from despair to calm
- Planning, possibly by looking around to buy, steal or borrow the tools they need to complete suicide, such as a firearm or prescription medication
It can be frightening and intimidating when a loved one reveals or shows signs of suicidal thoughts. However, not taking thoughts of suicide seriously can have a devastating outcome. If you think your friend or family member will hurt herself or someone else, call 911 immediately. There are a few ways to approach this situation.
- Remove means such as guns, knives or stockpiled pills
- Calmly ask simple and direct questions, such as “Can I help you call your psychiatrist?” rather than, “Would you rather I call your psychiatrist, your therapist or your case manager?”
- Talk openly and honestly about suicide. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” or “Do you have a plan for how you would kill yourself?”
- If there are multiple people, have one person speak at a time
- Ask what you can do to help
- Don’t argue, threaten or raise your voice
- Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong
- If your loved one asks for something, provide it, as long as the request is safe and reasonable
- If you are nervous, try not to fidget or pace
- If your loved one is having hallucinations or delusions, be gentle and sympathetic, but do not get in an argument about whether the delusions or hallucinations are real
What to do in a Crisis
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately. If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call Partners anytime, every day at 1-888-235-HOPE (4673) or the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255). If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line. Also, learn how you and your family can be prepared for a crisis at Being Prepared for a Crisis
Recovery Month Events
In recognition of September as National Recovery Month, Partners and many local agencies and community organizations are sponsoring events this month. These events serve to remind us many deaths from overdose and suicide are preventable through treatment. They also serve to celebrate the hope of recovery and those in recovery.
Lastly, these events allow us to remember those who we’ve lost to substance use and mental illness:
3rd Annual Burke Rally for Recovery
Join the Burke Substance Abuse Network to celebrate and spread the message that people do achieve sustained recovery from mental health concerns, alcohol, drugs, and other life challenges. The 3rd annual rally features: Speakers, live music, free food, a Recovery Wall,
Games, and more! All are welcome on Saturday, September 15, 2018, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at the Morganton Historic Courthouse Square, 102 East Union St., Morganton, NC.
Yadkin County Hope Fest for Recovery
Help spread the word that through treatment, recovery from mental illness and substance use disorder is possible. Come out to Lila Swaim Park, 121 Delos Martin Dr., Jonesville, NC, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., on Saturday, September 15, 2018, and enjoy entertainment, food, and activities to celebrate those in recovery.
Gaston County Recovery Month Celebration and Candlelight Vigil
You are invited to celebrate recovery through treatment and services and hold a vigil for those who we’ve lost to behavioral health problems. The event is on Friday, September 28, 2018, from 6-9:30 p.m., at Gaston Pavilion, 111 N. South St., Gastonia, NC.
Iredell County Walk for Recovery
Celebrate your Recovery Month by attending the Family Walk on Friday, September 28, 2018, from 5-8:30 p.m., at ESC Park, 338 North Ave., Troutman, NC, to honor those in Recovery and remember those who have passed away. The event includes activities for all ages, giveaways, music/DJ, free food, storytellers, and a candlelight closing ceremony.
Catawba County Recovery Rally
Help us commemorate recovery in Catawba County on Saturday, September 29, 2018, from 1-3 p.m., 110 2nd St. Place SE, Hickory, NC. Come and see recovery is possible for anyone and there is hope and healing for people living with substance use and mental disorders. This is a free event, which includes speakers, fellowship, information, entertainment, food, and empowerment.
In the Community
Burke County Communities Project: Facing Addiction with NCADD
Addiction is a national emergency and there is a need to face the reality and develop responses on a community level. “It’s time to engage in a massive community organizing effort, town by town, city by city.” Community organizing is defined in the Oxford Living Dictionary as, “the coordination of cooperative efforts and campaigning carried out by local residents to promote the interests of their community.” The Communities Project supports this concept through the primary aim of bringing a community organizing framework into communities to push for local policy change on addiction issues.
Burke County was selected as one of the 25 communities to implement the program and is the only community selected in NC. Facing Addiction with NCADD’s Communities Project is ideal for the needs of Burke County and can truly make a difference in the lives of every resident. Substance use/misuse leaves no one untouched and our goal is to create responses and develop solutions to the greatest substance use/misuse needs in our community. We have the desire, we have the people, we have the agency and community leader support, now we need to grow the structure and continue to innovate in ways that best fit Burke County.
Come to the first meeting on Saturday, September 22, 2018, from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., at Foothills Higher Education Center – Room 147, 2128 S. Sterling St., Morganton, NC. Lunch is provided.
Bring a friend, your family, your colleagues…speak up and speak out about your ideas, concerns, and desires for the community you call “home.” To sign up for the September 22, 2018 Burke County Communities Project, please complete the online RSVP form. For more information, email Kim James at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special Needs Planning 101: Including New Able Act Details
Life Enrichment Center is sponsoring this Educational Experience on Special Needs Planning on Thursday, September 13, 2018, from 6-8 p.m., at Life Enrichment Center, 222 Kings Mountain Blvd., Kings Mountain, NC. Participants will learn about government benefits, SSI and Medicaid, the ABLE Act, future caregiving, special needs trust, communication techniques, guardianship, defining your child’s lifetime needs, and proactive tax strategies. Please call Debbie Vaughan at 704-739-4858 for a reservation.
Integrated Care of Greater Hickory is Expanding Services
Integrated Care of Greater Hickory is now offering Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Program (SAIOP), Substance Abuse Comprehensive Outpatient Treatment (SACOT), and Medication-assisted treatment (MAT). They are also offering these enhanced services, and basic services, in Lincolnton, NC. For more informaiton, call 828-322-5915 or email email@example.com.
Behavioral Health Focus is published on the first and third Tuesday of each month and is intended to be a source of information for those working or interacting with behavioral health care in Burke, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Surry and Yadkin Counties. If you would like to contribute, contact Jeff Brucato at 704-884-2564 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Items should be submitted by Wednesday at 3 p.m. for the next week’s issue.