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Identifying, addressing risk factors for suicide

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From page D4 | December 08, 2013 | 1 Comment

In Solano County, suicide claims the lives of an average of 44 people a year.

While this number may be surprising to some, we know that family members, friends, teachers, coaches, co-workers and others can play a vital role in identifying and preventing suicide. If you know the signs that indicate a person is at risk of suicide you can be prepared to help.

Some of the warning signs that a person is at risk of suicide include:

  • Talking about wanting to die.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Anxious, agitated or reckless behavior.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or being socially isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

What you can do:

  • Do not leave the person alone; start a conversation, listen, express concern.
  • If possible remove objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Even if you don’t know how to intervene, there is help available at 800-273-TALK (8255). Through the toll free number, Lifeline connects individuals in crisis with local resources. You can support the person by making this connecting call with the person at risk for suicide.
  • Call the Solano County Crisis Stabilization Unit at 707-428-1131 or seek other professional help.

Some groups of people are at greater risk for suicide, including: Individuals bereaved by loss due to suicide; individuals with severe medical conditions; individuals with mental and/or substance use disorders; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations; and members of the Armed Forces and veterans. The highest rates of suicide occur among men in midlife and older men.

Fostering social connectedness can help promote mental and physical health and reduce the risk of suicide. Social isolation can contribute to suicide and suicide attempts among older adults, many of whom may have lost friends and family and/or have activity limitations that make it difficult to stay connected with others. Family connectedness has also been found to play an especially strong protective role against suicidal behaviors among LGBT youth. Many groups and organizations in the community, including schools, youth-serving organizations, faith-based organizations, and local aging services networks, contribute to suicide prevention by enhancing social connectedness.

Through the voter approved Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63), programs to educate the public and to provide support and resources to reduce the risk of suicide are available. The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) has developed a website where you can learn more at www.suicideispreventable.org. This website provides the tools to learn what to say and do if someone you know is at risk of suicide. CalMHSA has also developed a free mobile app, MY3, which is used to support individuals at risk of suicide to connect to support networks, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can learn more at www.my3App.org. These resources are available in both English and Spanish.

Locally in Solano County, we have established a suicide prevention committee composed of concerned citizens whose lives have been affected by suicide along with professionals working together to make our community aware of risk factors for suicide and steps to intervene. If you are interested in joining these efforts, please contact Mary Roy, LMFT, Solano County MHSA Manager, Solano County Health and Social Services Department at 707-784-8472.

Mary Roy, LMFT, is Solano County MHSA Manager at Solano County Health and Social Services, Mental Health Division, a partner of Solano Coalition for Better Health.

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Discussion | 1 comment

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  • Rita GoldenDecember 08, 2013 - 1:58 am

    One more sign is that the person begins giving away their belongings. Also, after they have been depressed for a time; they all of a sudden seem to be real happy for no apparent reason. Sometimes they get this way because they have made up their mind to commit suicide.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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