Suicide is Preventable and Recovery is Possible – Newsletter Fall 2018, Vol.12

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September brought us National Suicide Prevention Month and National Recovery Month.  An opportune time to remind ourselves that suicide is preventable and recovery is possible, even probable!

Yet the statistics are a telling glimpse into the lives of despair so many are living.  In 2017, in Allen County, Indiana, alone, we experienced a 44% increase in both suicides and accidental drug overdoses.  In both cases, the average age of these individuals was early forties – they left behind families and colleagues.  Deaths of despair are the tip of the iceberg.  The World Health Organization estimates that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Approximately one in five Americans experience some form of treatable mental illness each year.  They are your family members, your colleagues or maybe even you.

So how do we work together to prevent suicide and help us recover from these treatable mental and behavioral health issues?  We can start by eliminating the barrier of stigma.  Acknowledging others who may be struggling and listening with empathy and compassion can go a long way in starting the conversation on mental health.

national poll found that almost 50 percent of American respondents identified barriers that stopped them from trying to help someone at risk for suicide. These included the fear that they would say or do something to make things worse rather than better, and not knowing how to find help for a person in crisis.  But we can learn the warning signs of suicide, we can ask the suicide question and know how to respond, we can be there in a non-judgmental way, and we can help others get help.  (Just reading this article is starting to equip you with the resources to connect others to help!)

The stigma of addiction held by others can cause harm in several ways. When we as a society, including health professionals, begin to view addictions as a chronic brain disease, it changes the way we view the person afflicted and allows us to treat them more compassionately. Being compassionate and non-judgmental to someone with a chronic disease of addiction leads to better medical management and increases the likelihood of engagement of those who need to go into treatment to stabilize and repair their brain.

By minimizing stigma, we are actually encouraging mental health treatment, without shame, and thus, enhancing the likelihood that a person will be compliant and benefit from treatment.  When we decrease stigma, we increase compassionate care and ultimately save lives.

Start the Conversation.  Silence the Stigma.

Kristina and Heather


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