Health Corner: Suicide Awareness

BY MARGIE THOMPSON
For the UAS Whalesong
Suicide is not an easy topic to talk about, nor is it an easy one to deal with. However, making an effort to talk about it, learn about it and understand the signs may make a difference in someone’s life. According to the American Association of Suicidology, Alaska is ranked number two in the Nation in suicide deaths. The number one cause of suicide in Alaska is untreated depression. However, there are many different treatments and therapies to deal with and work with depression. It is a situation with hope and help.
September 10, 2015 was World Suicide Prevention Day and events all over the world highlighted the importance of talking about this issue and acknowledging the statistics surrounding this issue. At UAS, we hope to promote a culture of caring for each other, and we had a Wall of Hope to commemorate the Suicide Prevention Day.  We had a table of resources, listing the signs of suicide and the risk factors and statistics. We provided access to 24-hour care call or text lines available to assist people who are in pain or are struggling. We distributed wallet cards with important numbers and information, all still available at the Counseling Center, lower level Mourant.
There are warning signs that indicate when someone may be suicidal. Though they appear clear and concrete in hindsight, they are often hard to see in someone that we are close to or in ourselves. Warning signs are not always present, but it is important that they be identified when they are evident.
– Hopelessness, worthlessness, feeling a loss of control, helplessness
– Threatening to harm oneself or completing suicide
– Having a definite plan for completing suicide
– Acquiring the means to complete suicide
– Rehearsing or visiting a place to complete suicide
– Increased use of alcohol and/or drugs
– Changes in eating, sleeping, and personal care
– Apathy, lack of energy, inability to focus
– Talking or writing about death, drawing images of death
– Withdrawing from social relationships or activities
– Losing interest in hobbies, work, school
– Giving away highly valued personal items or possessions
– Undergoing significant changes in mood and personality
– Engaging in reckless or dangerous behaviors
– Making a will, funeral arrangements, or telling others how affairs should be handled
For more about warning signs, visit the American Association of Suicidology: http://www.juneausuicideprevention.org
Talk to the people you are worried about. Open up communication. Allow suicide to be a topic you will talk about. Contrary to what you may have heard, saying the word “suicide” does not make a person think of suicide. Ask them how long they have thought of suicide. Do they feel that way today? Right now? Have they thought of how or when they would commit suicide? Keeping what the suicidal person says secret is not ever helpful! Offer support, but know that you too may likely also need to find your own support. Utilize the resources below:
Careline: 1-887-266-4357
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Bartlett Regional Hospital Emergency Room: 907-796-8427.
Please remember that you are not alone! Someone you know cares. Please talk to someone! You are not alone there so many people who care for you. I don’t know you, but I love you. And I believe in you. Don’t give up! You are loved! The sun never truly sets; it simply rises upon a new horizon. You are so IMPORTANT! You matter and people love you. Even if you don’t believe it yourself. I lost a sister and can’t afford to lose anyone else. Never forget that it does get better. Everything is temporary. You do matter! Just remember, no matter how bad or hopeless it may seem you are not alone. Don’t give up. Keep your hope that it will get better because it will.
Depression Screening Day is October 9, 2015 and at UAS we will be in the Lakeside Grill, from 11:00am-1:00pm to provide screening and to distribute information about depression.  The UAS Counseling Services also does individual depression screenings daily. Please call 907-796-6000 to schedule an appointment with one of the professional counselors.

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