Suicide Prevention Month - Shining a Light of Hope
You may have heard that September is Suicide Prevention Month, and we believe recognizing how you feel is the first step toward healing. Working with youth who have experienced trauma can be a high hurdle for our therapists, but with enough education, strong relationships, and a safe environment, together we can break down those barriers.
Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the US (CDC, 2020). In 2020, approximately 12.2 million people seriously thought about suicide; approximately 3.2 million people made a plan for suicide, and around 1.2 million people attempted suicide. This means someone who you know and hold dearly struggles with mental health and has seriously considered suicide.
Good Samaritan works day and night to prevent these numbers from rising.
I recently sat down with one of our Residential Therapists, Kari Jones, to discuss what she and the other therapists at Good Samaritan lookout for, how to prepare for difficult conversations, and some common misconceptions.
Kari has worked for Good Samaritan for over three years and has served individuals who have come into care with suicidal ideations or attempts.
Working with our youth on a daily basis, Kari has become familiar with the different personalities that come to us for treatment. Because every youth is unique, the warning signs that they are struggling with suicidal thoughts can vary. The team works to better prepare for every situation.
Learning the Warning Signs
Warning signs for individuals who are at immediate risk include:
- Thoughts of wanting to die or to kill oneself
- Searching online for ways to kill oneself
- Obtaining a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
Warning signs for individuals who are at serious risk include:
- Speaking about feeling trapped
- Feeling unbearable pain
- Speaking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of drugs or alcohol
- Acting anxious or agitated
- Becoming reckless
- Lack of Sleep
- Feeling isolated
- Showing rage or seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings
Relationships and Trust
With trauma being a very present part of the lives of our youth, sometimes it is hard to notice these signs on the surface. That is why good relationships are so vital. If you truly know someone, you know when they are acting different.
“Staff and therapists work to build up individuals’ protective factors by providing relation-based therapeutic opportunities in each program that we offer. One major protective factor is feeling connected to and being in relationship with others.”
Relationships are just one piece of the puzzle. If an individual doesn’t feel safe in their environment, they are less likely to open-up about their mental well-being and share their feelings. Kari talks about how at our Residential Treatment Facility, it is imperative to promote mental well-being by creating a safe environment to have conversations about mental health and suicide.
Not only are our therapists trained to watch out for our youths’ well-being, but the well-being of their co-workers, also. Kari says “[Our] organization also utilizes programs to help staff who may be at risk. An EAP [Employee Assistance Program] is in place, providing mental health resources for staff at low or no cost. GSBR strives not only to serve our youth, but also to be a support for each other.”
When it comes to suicide prevention, there can be a lot of misconceptions. The first misconception is that self-harm is directly-linked to suicide, but that is not the case.
“Although it is sometimes true that individuals who engage in self-harming behaviors may later commit suicide [or attempt to], generally, individuals who engage in self-harm do not wish to end their life.”
One more misconception that Kari and our team have come across is the idea that we should not talk to others about suicide.
“Research has shown that not only is this misconception false, but asking someone if they are having thoughts of killing themselves increases the chance of saving their life.“
Kari adds, “We can address these misconceptions by becoming educated on the topic ourselves, as well as taking this knowledge into the community to teach others. We need to normalize talking about suicide so that individuals may feel safer to come to others for help.”
For youth that have been through so much in their lives, our therapists and staff are there to be a shining light and have the tough conversations that could save their life.
If you would like to know more or need additional resources, check out the links below:
- 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
- Be The 1 To
- Mayo Clinic
- National Institute of Mental Health
- National Alliance on Mental Health
You can be the difference. We encourage everyone to share this information with friends, family, or coworkers.
Call or text 988 if you or a loved one are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide.