Suicide prevention | Spot warning signs and know how to help
Editorand#8217;s Note: This is the second in a five part series from the Campaign for Community Wellness for May as Mental Health Awareness Month.
TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; If you know someone who has committed suicide or youand#8217;ve contemplated suicide youand#8217;re not alone. The World Health Organization estimates approximately one million people die each year from suicide. Millions more are affected by suicide. As part of mental health awareness month, Placer Countyand#8217;s Campaign for Community Wellness is working to educate people about suicide warning signs, risk factors and where to go for help.
Major suicide warning signs include talking about harming or killing oneself; talking or writing about death and dying and seeking items that could be used in a suicide attempt (i.e. guns and drugs). Feeling hopeless is a more subtle warning sign though it is equally as dangerous. People who are acting hopeless say they have nothing to look forward to; they may talk about unbearable feelings.
and#8220;When I was 26-years-old, I had a friend named Jeff who committed suicide. He was a year older than I was. He shot himself in the head while lying in bed before his mom came to knock on his door to take him to a counseling appointment. When I last saw him, he looked very thin, but I thought he was just on another crazy diet,and#8221; said Anne Marie Smith, Placer County resident. and#8220;I clearly remember, to this day, his dad saying at Jeffand#8217;s funeral, and#8216;one morning at the breakfast table with Jeff, he told me that he felt lost in life; he didnand#8217;t know what his path was in life while everyone seemed to know theirsand#8217;.and#8221;
and#8220;I have never forgotten those words. I only thought that feeling that way in your late 20s is pretty normal. Why was it worse for Jeff?and#8221; asked Smith.
After someone commits suicide, often friends and family wonder and#8220;What more could I have done? Were there resources I failed to seek and use? Were there warning signs I missed?and#8221; They feel like they could have or should have done more. These feelings and questions are normal. One of the best things for people to do is to become familiar with warning signs.
Additional signs include dramatic mood swings or sudden personality changes. A suicidal person may also lose interest in day-to-day activities, neglect his or her appearance, and show big changes in eating or sleeping habits. Depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol dependence, previous suicide attempts or family history of suicide increase suicide risk.
and#8220;Suicide can affect anyone and#8212; older adults, gays and lesbians, Caucasians, Latinos, Native Americans and, a population I work with and#8212; youth,and#8221; said Peter Mayfield, director of Gateway Mountain Center, a Truckee-based organization that works with at-risk youth. and#8220;Through many years of working one-on-one with teens who have attempted suicide, Iand#8217;m constantly reminded of how important it is for people to know that resources are there to support them and#8230; Suicide is the 11th most common cause of death in the nation. Working together, we can change that number.and#8221;
About the Campaign for Community Wellness
Founded in 2005, the Campaign for Community Wellness (CCW) is a group of citizens who are concerned about and desire to improve the services for people affected by mental illness throughout Placer County. For more information visit http://www.campaignforcommunitywellness.org.
and#8212; Information distributed by Placer County System of Care
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