Posted on: September 5, 2019 | Dr. Julia Hood Ph.D., BCBA, NCSP As part of the observance of World Suicide Prevention Dayon September 10, National Suicide Prevention Week is held throughout the week. This year, Suicide Prevention Week is September 8 – 14. While suicide rates actually increase in the spring, it’s so important to be aware of factors that influence suicide attempts all year long. National Suicide Prevention Week is the time to get educated and learn how you can help a loved one by recognizing the warning signs of suicide and depression. With all the resources available during this important week, it’s easier than ever to educate yourself and be there for your loved one. Suicide affects entire communities, including the person attempting suicide and their family, friends, and peers. Nationally, Utah ranks fifth for the highest suicide rates. In addition, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34, just after death from unintentional injury. With such scary and staggering statistics, Suicide Prevention Week is more critical than ever and Highland Springs is here to help. In conjunction with our outpatient behavioral health programs, we are here to educate friends and families in preventing suicide. Recognizing the Warning Signs of Suicide and Depression While every person is different, there are common symptoms to be aware of. Mental health issues are a big influence on someone contemplating suicide. Depression is most commonly associated with suicidal ideation, but other factors such as anxiety and bipolar disorder can contribute. Finding depression treatment can be lifesaving and is a critical step in finding happiness again. Common symptoms of depression include: Difficulty with memory or concentrating A significant change in sleep pattern, either too little or too much Loss of pleasure in activities Lack of energy or feelings of fatigue Exaggerated feelings of guilt Feeling worthless and blaming one’s self Hopelessness about the future Remember, someone could experience all these symptoms or just a few, so seeking depression treatment to receive a proper diagnosis is critical. Next, it’s important to understand the risk factors that can lead to suicidal ideation and/or attempts. In addition to mental health issues, these factors can include, but are not limited to: Substance abuse Poor school or work performance Experiencing crisis or trauma Being a victim of bullying or harassment Serious physical health conditions such as pain or traumatic brain injury Stressful life events such as financial crisis, rejection, divorce, or other losses Exposure to suicide Childhood abuse or neglect Family history of suicide Addressing and understanding these symptoms could help prevent a suicide attempt. Protective factors that can decrease the likelihood of a suicide attempt include having a positive school, home, and community environment, as well as positive peer relationships. Warning Signs of Suicide Recognizing the symptoms that can make a person suicidal is crucial, but it’s just as or even more important to see the suicide warning signs. A person can exhibit one, multiple, or all signs and it really varies. So, there are three areas to be aware of: talk, mood, and behavior. Talk If a loved one begins talking about taking their life, having no reason to live, or feeling hopeless, this should be taken seriously. Other common things a person may talk about include feeling trapped, being a burden to others, or feeling unbearable pain. Mood A sudden shift in mood is an alarming indicator and is something you need to look for. A mood change can go either way. From depression, anxiety, irritability, anger to sudden improvement or relief, these are all a warning sign. Behavior Different or increased behaviors can signal risk, especially if they are related to an event or sudden change. Behaviors to be aware of include isolating oneself, increased substance abuse, changes in sleep, saying goodbyes, and giving away prized possessions. Educating yourself on the warning signs of suicide and depression is a great step in helping a loved one. Now that you understand the symptoms, you might be wondering how exactly you can help. Helping a Loved One After National Suicide Prevention Week Don’t be fooled, you can help a loved one year-round and not only during Suicide Prevention Week. While understanding the signs and symptoms is a wonderful step, there are a few simple, actionable steps you can also take in helping a friend or family member: Encourage them to seek depression treatment or a mental health professional Be a good listener without judgment If you feel they are in danger, don’t leave them alone Help them stay connected to their support system Don’t be afraid to ask them about their suicidal feelings Follow up with them regularly to see how they’re doing Keep them safe by removing any potentially lethal objects from their possession Continue to stay educated on signs, symptoms, and ways of helping These are just a few ways to assist a loved one, but the most important part of suicide prevention is simply being present. If you or a loved one is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, do not hesitate to contact Highland Springs today. Call us today at 800-403-0295 or contact us to schedule a confidential appointment. In addition to our assistance, there are also a number of resources available to help prevent suicide. NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: 1-800-273-8255 https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ FOR UTAH: University of Utah Statewide Crisis Hotline: 801-587-3000 Find your specific county crisis support here. Unique to Utah, we have the SafeUT app that you can download here. This app can be used to chat, text, or provide tips from licensed clinicians 24/7. FOR IDAHO: Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline: text or call 208-398-4537 NAMI Boise: 208-376-4304 Visit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Idaho Dr. Julia Hood Ph.D., BCBA, NCSPJulia Hood, Ph.D., BCBA-D is the Director of the Adult Autism Center of Lifetime Learning, the first center in Utah to provide individualized services for autistic adults. Here, she uses her rich background in psychology to empower clients. Julia has guided the Carmen B. Pingree Center, the center for assisting kids and adolescence, through critical stages of growth, including developing its architectural layout and clinical programs. Under her leadership, the center has also established local partnerships that allow clients to contribute to society. In the future, Julia envisions building more adult autism centers, as well as providing group home residential services. Julia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Westminster College, and a Masters and Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Utah.