TVMHC has partnered with SPAN Teton Valley to create a Subsidized Counseling Program as part of our County-wide suicide prevention efforts. We can now offer up to 6 sessions of subsidized counseling to people who are at increased risk for suicide and unable to pay for counseling. Contact a therapist in Teton Valley for more information or to learn more about the program.
In this video created by Mayo Clinic, teens describe common signs that a teen is considering suicide and provide encouragement for communicating directly and immediately for support and safety. It also Includes suggestions for what to say to a teen who may be at risk for suicide and ways to keep them safe. Things can get better.
Reach out to prevent teen suicide. This positive music video, created by Mayo Clinic, encourages troubled teens to communicate with an adult for help and support. It also depicts how teens can talk to adults in a variety of situations. Things can get better
Here are some great websites with many valuable tools:
National Suicide Crisis Line 1-800-273-TALK
Suicide Prevention: It’s Up to All of Us
By Sarah S. Dunn, LPC, SPAN Teton Valley
Suicidal behavior is both complex and frightening. The impact of a youth suicide is devastating to family, friends, and the whole community, and while suicide is generally a rare event, the frequency of youth suicide in Teton Valley is cause for concern.
Suicidal behavior among young people is a much larger public health concern than what is represented in death statistics. About 1 in 7 high school students report seriously considering suicide in the past 12 months. Suicide attempts by young people are more likely to result in an emergency department or hospital visit than among older people. According to national estimates, there may be 25 or more non-fatal suicide attempts for every completed suicide.
Everyone can help prevent youth suicide. Information in this article and on these pages is provided to help you learn more about youth suicide and how you can help prevent it. Youth suicide prevention is up to all of us.
What causes suicide? Suicidal behavior is one of the most complicated of human behaviors. This question cannot be answered briefly. There is no research that shows that a particular set of risk factors can accurately predict the likelihood of imminent danger of suicide for a specific individual. It is fair to say that suicidal people are experiencing varying degrees of external life stressors, internal conflict and brain chemistry imbalance and these factors contribute to their state of mind. Depression, anxiety, conduct disorders, and substance abuse all contribute to the possibility of suicide, but they do not cause it. A “final straw” for suicide is usually the last thing that a person who kills him/herself is thinking about, and many left behind want to blame that person or event, but the “final straw” was NOT the cause of the suicide. Often there are a series of events or circumstances, sometimes over a long period of time, that lead to a person’s suicide death – yet in some cases, the reasons behind suicide remain a permanent mystery.
Does suicide usually occur in a certain kind of family? NO. It is really important to understand that suicidal behavior occurs in all social groups. People of all ages, races, faiths, and cultures die by suicide, as do individuals from all walks of life and all income levels. Popular, well connected people who seem to have everything going for them and those who are less well off die by suicide. Suicidal youth come from all kinds of families, rich and poor, happy and sad, two-parent and single-parent. To suggest that suicidal youth come only from “bad,” “sick,” or “neglectful” families is like saying that only these kids get cancer. Families who’ve lost a loved one to suicide experience heartwrenching pain and uncertainty, and they need support rather than suggestions of blame. Suicide can happen in any family. We all must work together to identify and prevent suicidal behavior.
Don’t most suicides happen without warning? Research shows there are almost always warning signs, but unless we know what they are, they can be very difficult to recognize. That is why suicide prevention education is so important. Research has demonstrated that in over 80 percent of deaths by suicide, a warning sign or signs were present.
Is suicide preventable?
Yes, suicide may often be prevented. Many people believe that if someone is suicidal, there is nothing that anyone can do to stop them from killing themselves. Some also believe that those who don’t kill themselves on the first attempt will keep trying until they die. The truth is that most young people face a suicidal crisis only once in a lifetime. A suicidal crisis is usually very brief, lasting from a few hours to a few days. With intervention and help, future attempts may be prevented. Experience and wisdom are gained in solving problems in other ways. While suicide is not always prevented, suicide prevention is ALWAYS worth trying.
What can I do? Whether you are a youth looking for help for a friend or yourself, a parent, or other interested person, there are things you can do to help prevent suicide. First, educate yourself on the warning signs of suicide (see sidebar in this paper: “Warning Signs for Suicide”). Be sure to take all talk of suicide seriously. Pay attention to what may seem like casual threats or remarks, which may indicate serious suicidal feelings. Experts recommend three critical steps to helping a suicidal person. They are:
1.Show you care. Listen carefully, remain calm, do not judge. Examples: “I am concerned about you . . . about how you are feeling.” “You mean a lot to me, I want to help.”
2.Ask about suicide. Be direct and caring. Asking about suicide does not increase the risk of suicide – on the contrary, your willingness to discuss this difficult subject may be just what the person needs to open up, connect with someone about their suffering and see other options. The fact that you ASK about suicide is much more important than how you ask. “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” “When people are in as much pain as you seem to be, they sometimes think about suicide. Are you thinking about suicide?”
3.Persuade the suicidal person to get help. Make sure they get help. Never leave a suicidal person alone. “I know where we can get some help.” “I will go with you to get help, you’re not alone.”
If you believe a person might be in danger of suicide, it is up to you to see that they get the help they need – they are unlikely to seek it out on their own. Call the National Suicide Crisis Hotline (1-800-273-8255) or the police (911) to keep the person safe if needed. Use the resources listed on this page (“Resources”, and the websites listed) if you’re unsure how to proceed.
It is important to realize that anyone can intervene with a person who is suicidal in basic, life-saving ways. It is up to all of us to become educated about suicide, get involved in community prevention efforts, and learn how to access help for someone who is feeling suicidal. Most importantly, know that hope exists. Suicide prevention is possible, and is up to all of us.
The Teton Valley Mental Health Coalition meets the 4th Friday of every month, noon-1pm, at Teton Valley Realty in Driggs and welcomes community participation. For more information contact co-chair Adam Williamson at 208-705-7898, firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Information for these pages was compiled by Sarah S. Dunn from the following websites: SPRC (Suicide Prevention Resource Center, www.sprc.org), NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org), SPAN (Suicide Prevention Action Network, www.spanusa.org), National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org) and the Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Project (www.maine.gov/suicide/).”
What Are The Warning Signs For Suicide?
Seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or 911 in an emergency, if you or someone you know exhibits any of the following signs:
- Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
- Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
- Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking
- Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out
- Increasing alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
- Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Experiencing dramatic mood changes
- Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life
For Teenagers and Young People
An overwhelming majority of young people who hear a suicide threat from a friend or loved one don’t report the threat to an adult. Take all threats seriously and report them to a responsible adult —you are not betraying someone’s trust by trying to keep them alive.
National Youth Suicide Prevention Campaign: This website is geared toward teenagers, and is full of information about helping your friends who may be considering suicide, as well as helping yourself. http://us.reachout.com/wecanhelpus/index.php
Save a Life: Remove Lethal Methods
A lethal weapon available to a person in the depths of despair can end a life in an instant! Suicides are often attempted with very little planning. Removing lethal means from the environment of a vulnerable person, especially a youth, can save lives. It’s like taking the car keys away from a person who has had too much to drink.
Firearms are the most common method used in all youth suicides, and the risk of completed suicide doubles when a gun is in the home of a person who’s at risk. Alcohol and drugs can cause people to act on emotion without thinking clearly; prescription and over-the-counter medication can be used in a suicide attempt. What can you do to help protect a suicidal person?
- Restrict access to all types of guns if it is safe to do so by temporarily removing them from the home until the situation improves. If this is not possible, securely store guns locked and unloaded (ideally in a lock box or gun safe), and lock ammunition in a separate place. The Teton County Sheriff’s Office (208-354-2323) and Teton Valley Hospital (208-354-2302) both provide free gun (trigger) locks; the Sheriff will also temporarily store guns for you during a crisis at your request. Call for assistance. You can also ask a trusted friend, relative or neighbor to securely store them until a later date.
- Keep only non-lethal quantities of medications on hand. Lock up more toxic medications and abuse-prone medications. Dispose of expired or unneeded prescription drugs. For more information call the Poison Control Center: 1-800- 222-1222.
- Keep only small amounts of alcohol on hand or lock it up.
While these things can help, it is not possible to completely suicide proof a home. Having access to a firearm or other lethal means does not in itself promote suicidal behavior, but knowing that the means are accessible may help a troubled person formulate his or her suicidal plans. If you are worried that someone is suicidal call the suicide crisis hotline (1-800-273-8255).
TVMHC has two safe clinicians trained in safeTalk, Adam Williamson and Sarah Dunn. Click on thier names for more information or if you would like to schedule a safeTalk training. Click on the logo to learn more about safeTalk