|Mental Health First Aid Could Save A Life
|September 07, 2012
|One in four Americans lives with a mental health problem each year. And while treatment for depression and other mental health problems is effective in most instances, far too many people – up to two-thirds – don't seek help.
The week of September 9-15 is Suicide Prevention Week, and Sutter-Yuba Mental Health Services encourages everyone to become a mental health first responder, to know the warning signs of suicide and how to respond to those signs. Sutter-Yuba Mental Health Services provides three specific intervention programs funded by the Mental Health Services Act, in addition to 24 hour crisis services.
According to the American Association of Suicidology, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States in 2009, claiming 36,909 lives. For those between the ages of 15-24, however, it is the third leading cause of death.
According to the California Department of Mental Health Office of Suicide Prevention, there were 19 suicides reported in Yuba and Sutter counties combined in 2007, and 28 reported in 2008, the last year for complete figures.
Four times more men kill themselves, but three times more women than men attempt suicide. About seven out of every 100 men and one out of every 100 women who have been diagnosed with depression in their lifetime will go on to complete suicide.
A suicidal person may: talk about suicide, death and/or having no reason to live; be preoccupied with death and dying; withdraw from friends and/or social activities; have a recent severe loss (especially a relationship) or threat of a significant loss; experience drastic changes in behavior; lose interest in hobbies, work, or school; prepare for death by unexpectedly making out a will and final arrangements; and give away prized possessions.
They may have also attempted suicide before; take unnecessary risks; lose interest in their personal appearance; increase their use of alcohol or drugs; express a sense of hopelessness; be faced with a situation of humiliation or failure; have a history of violence or hostility; and be unwilling to "connect" with potential helpers.
Nearly everyone at some time in his or her life thinks about suicide, but most decide to live because they conclude the crisis is temporary. On the other hand, people in the midst of a crisis often perceive their dilemma to be inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. They can't: stop the pain; think clearly; make decisions; see any way out; sleep, eat or work; get out of the depression; make the sadness go away; see the possibility of change; see themselves as worthwhile; get someone's attention; seem to get in control.
Sutter-Yuba Mental Health Services recommends if you experience any of these feelings to seek help. If you know someone who exhibits these feelings, offer help.
Approximately 500 people each month call the Sutter-Yuba Mental Health Services 24-hour crisis line at 673-8255. Of these, 12 percent are children.
Other sources of assistance are a school counselor or psychologist, a private therapist, a family physician, or a religious/spiritual leader.
Over the past five years, Sutter –Yuba Mental Health Services has treated an average of 6,099 people per year. Adults make up 83 percent of the caseload, and children 17 percent.
In addition to treatment, Sutter-Yuba Mental Health services conducts outreach. Funded through the Mental Health Services Act, Sutter-Yuba Mental Health's Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) program has reached out to area high schools through the Yellow Ribbon suicide awareness program. One in five teenagers in the U.S. seriously considers suicide annually.
Through the Yellow Ribbon program, more than 3,300 students have been trained in recognizing warning signs of suicide in their peers.
Yellow Ribbon also gives the message that it is always ok to ask for help. This strategy seeks to encourage young people to talk to someone when they are having thoughts of harming themselves. It also encourages them to seek help for their friends if they talk about suicide.
Also funded through the Mental Health Services Act, the PEI team offers training to the Yuba-Sutter community in Mental Health First Aid and also in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. The goal is to increase the community's capacity to help each other and increase the awareness of what help is available.
For additional information, contact: Jackie Stanfill at 822-7478 or John Floe at 674-1885.