Friday, September 9, 2016

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – Life can get overwhelming when you’re struggling to meet demands from a multitude of sources and remember everything you need to get done. When things keep piling up around you, it gets tough to dig out.

September is national Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and knowing the warning signs can aid in prevention.

“Suicide is never the answer,” said Candace Rutherford, licensed clinical social worker and director of outpatient behavioral health at Summit Behavioral Health. “Suicide is a very permanent choice to what often is a fleeting situation.”

You could save a life by recognizing these warning signs and starting the conversation:

  • Sudden mood swings
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness or despair
  • Changes in sleep
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Reckless behavior
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Withdraw from relationships or activities that once brought joy

Evidence suggests intervention such as behavioral therapy and crisis helplines are useful in preventing suicide.

If you are concerned someone in your life has shown warning signs of suicide, contact the Keystone Health Crisis Intervention Program at 717-264-2555 or 866-918-2555. The line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Veteran’s Administration offers a free, confidential Veteran’s Crisis Line for veterans, their families and friends, which can be accessed any day or time by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1.

Veterans also can search a database of providers in nonemergency situations for free, confidential counseling in-person, over the phone or via web at: www.GiveAnHour.org.

In Franklin County

As a result of the 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment, key leaders at Summit Health and Healthy Franklin County identified mental health and suicide prevention as one of the main priorities that need addressed in the county.

More than 61,000 respondents reported one or more days with depressive symptoms within the two weeks that preceded the 2015 survey.

The suicide rate in Franklin County, 13.8 percent, is slightly higher than the national average at 12.6 percent and the state average of 12.1 percent.

Additionally, rates of depressive disorders are 21 percent in Franklin County as compared with the state and national averages of 19 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively.

“Mental health is a local, state and national crisis; it is a serious public health problem. A person’s mental wellness affects every facet of their life, from their ability to be productive to the relationships they have,” Rutherford said.

People of all ages with untreated mental health disorders are at a higher risk for a number of unhealthy and unsafe behaviors, including alcohol or drug abuse, violent or self-destructive behavior and suicide.

Summit Health is part of the Healthy Franklin County Mental Health Task Force, which is dedicated to reducing the rate of suicides in the county. The collaborative is charged with developing and implementing a Zero Suicide Prevention initiative that emphasizes the value and importance of each individual.

To learn more about the Mental Health Task Force or get trained in suicide intervention, contact one of the co-chairs:

  • Kenneth Wuertenberg
    Executive Director of the Mental Health Association
    Email: akw@mhaff.org
    Phone: 717-264-4301
  • Lori Young
    Franklin/Fulton MH/ID/EI Program Specialist
    Email: llyoung@franklincountypa.gov
    Phone: 717-264-5387

Build resilience

Growing up is tougher than ever. Young people today must contend with stressors from a variety of sources. As parents, it’s natural to want to shield children from the hardships of life.

Whether it’s bullying today or the loss of a job tomorrow, the resilience we nurture in children and teens as they develop toward independence can help them cope with the difficulties they encounter along life’s path.

Help young people in your life build resilience:

  • Connect – with friends and family
  • Help – helping gives us purpose and empowerment
  • Maintain a routine, but take a break to recharge
  • Model self-care – to eat healthy, exercise, and have fun
  • Teach acceptance of change – it’s a part of life

Need a little extra help or want more information? Click here.

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