IF YOUR ARE IN CRISIS
OR NEED HELP NOW - CALL 911 or 610-279-6100
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and this week is dedicated to suicide prevention in the US. You may have seen many efforts to call attention to the need for suicide prevention recently. However, public concern only rises when a suicide draws a lot of attention, and then apathy returns after a few days or weeks until the next time.
There are a number of reasons for the lack of community support. Suicide is still highly stigmatized and this keeps many people from getting involved. Suicide is the subject of many myths and misconceptions. Some don't believe that suicide is preventable.
In our region, one to two suicides occur every day. Scores of people make attempts and hundreds more are troubled by severe thoughts of suicide. The police, ERs, and crisis centers deal with suicidal behavior 24/7. Suicidal behavior is a major community problem. What can we do?
Here are the "must do's":
- Immediately call 9-1-1 if someone threatens to kill herself or himself, if someone is looking for ways to kill herself or himself, or is talking about suicide or wanting to die.- Get help for anyone voicing hopelessness, a sense of not belonging, or losing control, or who is withdrawing from family and friends or who has dramatic changes in mood.- Understand that anyone who has made a suicide attempt is at high risk and may need support and counseling to cope with the aftermath.
Here are some "should do's":
- Urge primary care physicians to post the warning signs of suicide in their exam rooms and to screen patients for depression and suicide risk- Contact local police about disposing of unnecessary firearms; secure any firearms in the home in tamper-proof gun cabinets or safes- Promote public awareness that alcohol use is involved in many suicide completions and attempts because it worsens depression and increases impulsiveness
And here are some "could do's":
- Discourage lurid media coverage of suicides that give unnecessary and potentially harmful references to the means, site, and rationale for the act.- Request that websites for high risk groups (e.g., veterans, police officers, mental health consumers, etc.) post the National Suicide LifeLine (800-273-8255).- Ask what care and residential programs for the elderly are doing to make their staff and their residents aware of suicide risk in the aged.
All of these are do-able "grassroots" steps that you can take.
Suicide prevention must be everybody's business.
By Julie Peticca, Director, MCES Crisis Department
It has been just over two years since MCES became part of the SAMAHA-funded National Suicide Lifeline Network. MCES is one of almost 170 hotlines and crisis centers taking calls to 1-800-273-TALK.
The MCES Crisis Center is the only network member in the metro-Philadelphia area operating 24/7 and consequently we receive most of the calls made on phones with 215, 610, 267, and 484 area codes. Last month, we took two such calls that demonstrate the value of the Lifeline and good crisis intervention skills.
Paul Butler, Assistant Director, of the MCES Crisis Department, was working the overnight one week helping to train a new employee. He took a Lifeline call from a gentleman who happened to be in Montgomery County ("in county" Lifeline calls are rare). The man was suicidal, intoxicated, and sitting in a field with a gun. Paul spent over an hour and half on the phone with this individual supporting him and talking him out of making a fatal decision. Meanwhile, the other personnel on duty that night, Ed Hinson, RN, Reuben Ray, and Brian Cline, EMT, were in contact with County Radio (911) to help locate the patient and dispatch aid. Paul kept the caller engaged until he was found by the Pennsylvania State Police. Troopers secured the caller's weapon. The MCES EMS Crew (305) also responded to the scene and the individual was brought to MCES for evaluation and subsequently admitted.
Alcohol and suicidality are a lethal combination and could have produced a fatality that night. However, that individual used the Lifeline to seek help. We are very proud of the efforts of Paul, Ed, Reuben, and Brian that early morning when no one else was available. They did well what we and other crisis centers do often.
Just the following week, our staff was involved in another "save" on the Lifeline characterized by similar excellent teamwork. Tracy Halliday, MSW, took a call from a 19-year old threatening suicide. Tracy used her intervention skills to build rapport with the caller and was able to get him to disclose his location in Bucks County. Brice Johnston, who was working with Tracy that night, got in touch with 911 in that county and local police came to his aide. Good job by both Tracy and Brice.
All MCES crisis staff have had experiences like these and most pass unnoticed because that's just what we do. That may be true but efforts like these should also be highlighted because they show how and why suicide is preventable and the essential role of crisis services.
The National Suicide Lifeline Facebook page notes "Hope is a call away." It takes hope to reach out for help when you are troubled by serious suicidal thoughts. It takes hope to stay on the line and listen to a total stranger whose skills may be all that stands between you and losing your life to suicide. The Lifeline delivers on that hope by linking resources like MCES and our crisis staff to individuals at-risk.
Domestic Violence Literacy and MCES are proud to co-sponsor "Domestic Violence: The Issue, The Assessment, The Solution," a workshop facilitated by DVL's Jan Biresch on October 16.
Jan has worked in healthcare for 40 years and has spent nearly two decades of that time raising awareness and educating providers on understanding and supporting domestic violence survivors. This workshop will help attendees:
- Understand all of the scenarios that constitute an abusive relationship
- Characteristics of victims and abusers, including red flags and health effects
- Develop assessment techniques based on the tools offered
- Access to local, state, and national resources
The workshop will be held at Building 33 on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital, 1001 Sterigere Street, Norristown on October 16 from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. The workshop fee is $30.00. Registration and pre-payment is required.
Click here for an agenda and more details
Click here for the registration flyer
Montgomery County Emergency Service, Inc.
50 Beech Drive, Norristown, PA
610-279-6100 or toll free 844-455-7455