Save a Life: Learn the Suicide Risk Factors and Warning Signs

Consider sharing this post. It’s National Suicide Prevention Week— please take a moment to review the Risk Factors and the Warning Signs as they may apply to loved ones, friends, colleagues, or even yourself. Click here for the Risk Factors/Warning Signs page of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. People with Risk Factors or exhibiting Warning Signs are strongly encouraged to seek treatment—suicide is preventable. If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, please consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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From AFSP:

“There’s no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition. Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed or untreated. Conditions like depression, anxiety and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide. Yet it’s important to note that most people who actively manage their mental health conditions lead fulfilling lives.”

Risk Factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life:

Health Risk Factors—such as mental health conditions, substance abuse disorders, or serious/chronic health conditions and/or pain.

Environmental Risk Factors—such as stressful life events, prolonged stress conditions, access to lethal means, and exposure to suicide.

Historical Risk Factors—such as previous suicide attempts.

Be aware of Warning Signs.

According to AFSP, most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.

Warning Signs relate to a person’s Talk— about “being a burden to others,” or “feeling trapped,” or “experiencing unbearable pain,” or “having no reason to live,” or “killing themselves.”

Warning Signs relate to a person’s Mood—displaying one or more moods such as depression, loss of interest, rage, irritability, humiliation, anxiety.

Warning Signs relate to a person’s Behavior—such as increased use of alcohol or drugs, aggression, acting recklessly, withdrawing from activities, isolating from family and friends, sleeping too much or too little, visiting or calling people to say goodbye, giving away prized possessions, and looking for a way to kill themselves.

“Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change.”

How to help someone who may be struggling: click here for guidance from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Click on the infographic below to download a Warning Signs checklist.

Ithacans Walk to Prevent Suicide

The annual Ithaca Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is this Saturday, September 16, from 12 Noon to 2 p.m. You can walk, donate, or do both! Support the Walkers from Ithaca College’s amazing Active Minds chapter by clicking here.

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AFSP’s “Out of the Darkness” walks raise awareness and funds for new research, educational programs, advocacy for public policy, and supporting survivors of suicide loss. The Ithaca Walk’s fundraising goal is $20,000.

From Ithaca College’s Active Minds chapter:

“We are joining the community of nearly 250,000 people walking in hundreds of cities across the country in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. All donations are 100 percent tax deductible and will help bring AFSP one step closer to achieving their bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.”

Walk Date: September 16, 2017

Walk Location: Cass Park, Water Front Trail

Check-in/Registration Time: 10:30 a.m.

Walk Begins: 12 Noon

Walk Ends: 2:00 p.m.

For more information:

Contact Phone: (607) 327 3370

Contact Email: IthacaAFSP@gmail.com

To become a Walker, click here to register online. (Or you can register in person from 10:30 a.m. to 12 Noon right before the Walk.)

To donate through a member of the Ithaca College Active Minds Team, click here!

To make a donation through another Ithaca Walk participant, click here.

To make a donation directly to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, click here.

Photo caption: Active Minds past co-President Alex Lopez and current co-President Makai Andrews at The Sophie Fund’s meeting in April.

[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]

 

National Suicide Prevention Week—and You

“You can make a tremendous difference for yourself and those around you simply by being aware of the facts about suicide, learning how to shore up your mental health and resilience, making use of the suicide prevention resources available to you, and sharing them so more people know how to recognize the risks and warning signs of suicide, and can take action.” —American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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National Suicide Prevention Week is an opportunity to take some concrete steps that may save a life. Check out “Mental Health for Yourself and Those in Your Community,” a useful page on the website of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It contains video tips on mental health and the following resources:

Some Thoughts about the Netflix Series 13 Reasons Why

Some Thoughts about the Netflix Series 13 Reasons Why concisely lists the factors to be aware of when watching or discussing the popular show that deals with suicide.

Mental Health Social Sharables

Educate your community to help stop suicide with these informative social sharables.

Have an Honest Conversation

Always trust your instinct if you’re worried about someone. Find out how to have a direct, productive conversation to let others know you care.

News and Features

Stay up-to-date on the very latest news stories involving mental health.

Talk Saves Lives Brochure

Talk truly can save lives. Learn the risk factors, warning signs, how to reach out, and take action if you’re concerned about someone.

Learn the Signs—Wallet Card

A pocket-size reference for knowing what to look out for to keep yourself and others safe.

[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]

 

 

How Reading Fiction Soothes Teen Angst

Shawn Goodman, the Young Adult fiction author of Kindness for Weakness, will be the featured guest speaker at a “Readings on Mental Health” event on September 24 sponsored by the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County and hosted by Buffalo Street Books.

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Goodman will take his audience on a tour of the Young Adult literature landscape, discussing works such as It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini, Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, and Mexican White Boy by Matt De La Pena.

In his talk, Goodman will explore the different reasons as well as the different ways in which teens and adults read—a critical question given how reading time for teens has become such a limited commodity due to competing activities, most of which are digital and instant.

Goodman is a school psychologist in Ithaca whose experiences working in several New York State juvenile detention facilities inspire his writing. The New York Times called Goodman’s Kindness for Weakness, “a gripping tale with important lessons for any young man.” It is the story of James, the son of a cocktail-waitress single mom, who becomes entangled with his drug-dealing older brother as he navigates adolescence. Goodman’s earlier Something Like Hope won the 2009 Delacorte Press Prize for a first Young Adult novel.

Goodman’s appearance is the second installment of “Readings on Mental Health,” a 2017 series featuring authors of books on mental health topics made possible by a grant from The Sophie Fund.

 

It’s Watershed Declaration Month

The Tompkins County Legislature on Tuesday proclaimed September 2017 to be “The Watershed Declaration Month” in support of intensified suicide prevention efforts in the community.

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In a proclamation read out in the name of legislature Chair Michael E. Lane, Legislator Anna Kelles said:

“I call upon our citizens, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, health care providers, and educational institutions to raise awareness of Ithaca’s mental health support services, encourage those in need to seek treatment, honor those in our community we have lost too soon, commit to an all-out effort to prevent suicide, and support the efforts of the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition.”

The proclamation came at the start of national Suicide Prevention Month and six weeks after the launch of the Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition by 32 local mental health organizations. The Watershed Declaration was adopted at a meeting of mental health stakeholders in Ithaca on April 17. The organizations declared suicide to be a serious public health concern and pledged to “intensify efforts toward saving lives and bringing hope to those struggling with suicide thoughts or affected by suicide loss.”

In receiving the proclamation, Scott MacLeod, a donor advisor of The Sophie Fund, established to support mental health initiatives for young people in the community, thanked Kelles and the legislature for their support. He also commended the initiative of Tompkins County Mental Health Commissioner Frank Kruppa and Deputy Commissioner Sharon MacDougall to establish the county’s Suicide Prevention Coalition.

“We learned the hard way that suicide is a terrible tragedy, and we learned the hard way that suicide is preventable,” said MacLeod, whose daughter Sophie, a 23-year-old Cornell University student on a mental health leave of absence, died by suicide in March 2016. “We are convinced that promoting greater awareness of risk factors and warning signs—and with the role that healthcare systems can play in closing the gaps—can really save a lot of lives. One life is too many to lose, and we are losing too many.”

Lee-Ellen Marvin, executive director of the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service in Ithaca, lauded the legislature’s designation of The Watershed Declaration Month. “It’s exciting to see people from all different sectors, the government and the non-profit community, coming together to re-enlist effort and energy in suicide prevention,” she said. “If we are going to make change in how suicide is understood and treated, and if we are going to register it as a public health crisis, we need governmental bodies to stand behind us.”

Kelles, chair of the county legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, said The Sophie Fund’s push for The Watershed Declaration and Tompkins County Suicide Prevention Coalition “were both critical first steps in our community engagement to reduce deaths from suicide.”

“These are first steps on a long road to a very attainable goal that needs engagement from everyone in the community,” Kelles added. “We have a very fast paced lifestyle as a society where productivity is the key to survival. In some ways this is beautiful but in other ways it has contributed to a breakdown in nurturing quality time within families and within the larger community. The ultimate impact is steadily increasing isolation from each other and increasing rates of depression. Part of the work of the coalition and The Sophie Fund is to help us regain that sense of community through collective care and attention for each other’s well-being. To create comprehensive systems of mental health support for if and when any one of us feels buried under the weight of our lives is to build a resilient and vibrant community.”

Photo caption: Lee Ellen Marvin, executive director, Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service; Scott MacLeod, donor advisor, The Sophie Fund; Anna Kelles, Tompkins County legislator (District 2, City of Ithaca)

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Tompkins County Legislature Proclamation

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The Watershed Declaration