The Importance of Checking In and Suicide Prevention Month
September 16, 2022
September marks the beginning of saying goodbye to summer and beautiful scenic views.
September is also a time to remember the importance of connection and checking in. September is the national month for Suicide Awareness.
It is also a time to gather closely with those you hold dear and call your own and check in with acquaintances, friends, and family. We know that in Alaska we have some of the highest rates in many categories, but especially Seasonal Affective Disorder due to the lack of Vitamin D or sunshine in the depths of the winter. We know that living in rural Alaska can be tough in general, and struggle with having a lack of direct mental health resources. However, there IS support out there for our loved ones who may be struggling or having suicidal thoughts. It’s important to familiarize ourselves with resources and how to talk to someone if they may be experiencing depression or suicidal ideation. Whether you are a teen, a friend, a parent, a teacher, or a community member I hope that the following article below helps you be aware and understand the resources available.
All the love and vitamin D,
-REC Room Program Coordinator
“Suicide is a difficult topic, but it’s too important to ignore. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24 in the United States. Despite a common belief that only teens and adults die by suicide, younger children can also be at risk.
Depression and suicide often coincide. Yet not everyone who is depressed attempts suicide—and not everyone who attempts suicide is depressed. If you’re a parent, a teacher, or anyone who spends time with children and teens, it’s important to learn the warning signs. These tools can help you prevent youth suicide.
Several factors increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors, including:
- Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders
- Alcohol and substance use
- Impulsive behaviors
- History of trauma or abuse
- Family history of suicide
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
Not everyone exhibits the same signs that they’re thinking about suicide, but these warning signs are cause for concern:
- Physical changes in appearance or hygiene
- Increase in alcohol or drug use
- A sudden or unusual drop in grades
- Social withdrawal
- Talking about suicide or preoccupation with death
- Risky or reckless behaviors (such as reckless driving or unsafe sex)
- Self-harm behaviors such as cutting
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having nothing to live for
- Researching suicide methods and/or acquiring weapons
If you have any concerns about a young person’s mental health, take action.
These steps can help
Express your concern. It’s a myth that if you mention suicide, you might plant the idea. By honestly and openly expressing your concerns, you’ll send an important message that you care about and understand.
Really listen. Parents can be tempted to shut down an upsetting conversation by saying, “I don’t want to hear those things,” or “I had a hard time as a teen, but I got over it.” Instead, say, “Tell me more about how you’re feeling.” Then listen.
Maintain connection. You might want to safeguard a child or teen by keeping him home in a protective cocoon, but isolation can increase the risk of suicidal behaviors. Help a struggling child maintain connections with friends and loved ones. As a parent, spend extra time with your child. Even watching TV or playing video games together sends a signal that you’re there.
Be compassionate. Express your love for the child or teen. Tell her you to hear their pain, that it can get better, that you will make sure they get help and will support them every step of the way.
Trust your judgment. If a young person denies that he is having suicidal thoughts, but you doubt his honesty, trust your intuition. Take further steps to ensure his safety.
Prioritize safety. Remove weapons from the house, make sure the child or teen is not left alone, and consult a mental health professional right away.
Talk to a safe and trusted adult. If you are a teenager reading this, and you know a friend of yours may be feeling this way or exhibiting some of these behaviors and don’t know what to do. Tell a safe and trusted adult that you know will help you get help for your friend. Here at the REC Room, we are always happy to help.
Where to find help
In an emergency, call 911 or take the child to a hospital or crisis center for evaluation. If your concerns are less urgent, seek help as soon as possible from a mental health professional. The child’s school psychologist might be able to share resources in your community.
To find a licensed psychologist in your area, use our Psychologist Locator. Ideally, seek out a mental health professional with specialized training in treating children or adolescents.
Need support now? Help is available
Emergency Services and Urgent Care
9 am-4 pm
Monday – Friday
Call 235-7701 Evenings and Weekends
Call 235-0247 or 911
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress. That could be:
- Thoughts of suicide
- Mental health or substance use crisis, or
- Any other kind of emotional distress
Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org, you can call for yourself or if you are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
In Alaska, if you are calling from a 907 area code, 988 connects you to the Alaska Careline, a member of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Careline is still active to help 24/7. Call 1-877-266-4357 (HELP) or text 4help to 839863 to speak to a trained counselor.
The ANTHC Behavioral Health Wellness Clinic also offers telehealth counseling, assessments, and referral support to adult beneficiaries anywhere in Alaska. You can access our care from your personal cell phone or computer. To learn more or become a client, visit https://www.anthc.org/bhwc or call (907) 729-2492 Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis, call or text 988, or chat at 988lifeline.org. Or contact Alaska Careline at 877-266-HELP.”