SUICIDE PREVENTION TAKING ACTION SAVING LIVES Chaplain Owens
Suicide: A Serious Public Health Threat • A National Problem – 30,000 per yr • A Military Problem – over 200 per yr in the Military Services
Three Categories of Self-Destructive Thoughts /Acts • Suicidal ideations / gestures • Attempted suicide • Completed Suicide
What is Suicidal Ideation? • Suicidal ideation is the formulation of suicidal thoughts and plans. • Can take form of images in one’s mind, internal fantasies • 50% of all people consider suicide at some point in their life at some level
What are Suicidal Gestures? • Suicidal gestures are those suicidal behaviors that are not intended to end one’s life. Gestures are usually intended to get attention. • An intentional act, suggesting a cry for help, causing self-harm or intent to cause physical self harm that would not cause death.
What is a Suicide Attempt? • A suicide attempt is intended to cause self-harm to the point of death in order to escape the pain. • An intentional act, causing physical self-harm, where death would have occurred without direct intervention.
What is Suicide? • Suicide is “the act or an instance of taking one’s life voluntarily and intentionally.” Webster’s Third International Dictionary • Intentional, self induced death.
Why Do People Take Their Own Lives?
Why? To End the Pain • Most folks who are thinking about suicide do not necessarily want to die; they do believe killing themselves is the only way to escape the pain they are experiencing • They may have tried to solve their problems without success, or solutions backfire. • They see no way out • They have lost hope • Death seems the only escape
How Do People Commit Suicide? • 60% firearms • 15% hanging • 9% carbon monoxide • 16% other
Groups with Higher Suicide Rates • 60% failed relationships: divorce or separation • 34% pending or recent disciplinary action • 15% Financial Difficulties
What are the warnings signs that some one may be suicidal?
Key Risk Factors • Depression • Alcohol / Substance Abuse • Previous Suicide Gestures/Attempts • Recent relationship loss • Previous suicide attempt • Legal or disciplinary trouble • Impulsiveness • Performance difficulties
What are the Warning Signs? • Depression / Mood Changes • Hopelessness about future • Changes in Behavior or Personality • Isolation or Withdrawal • Talk or hints of suicide • Problems with Alcohol, other drugs • Sense of humiliation or failure • Giviving Away Prized Possessions • Themes of death in art, music, poetry
Exploding the Myths • People who talk about suicide don’t commit suicide. • Suicide usually happens without warning. • Suicidal people are intent on dying. • Suicidal people are mentally ill. • Only certain people are suicidal types. • Talking about suicide plants ideas.
First Responders • Recognize someone might be at risk for suicide • Have the courage to act • A First Responder can be anyone. It could be you!
What to DO • Take threats seriously • Answer cries for help • Be a listener • Be direct with the question: “Are you thinking about hurting or killing yourself?” • If so, “What are you planning to do?” • Find out if they have the means— (gun, rope, pills, knife, etc) • Get help
How to Befriend a Suicidal Person • Be yourself-- be kind, genuine and personal • It is not so much what you say but how you say it • Pay full attention with good eye contact • Silence is okay-- you don’t need to have all the answers • Be empathetic
Who Ya Gonna Call? • Chain of Command / Duty Desk • Chaplain • Medical / Emergency Room • Security / Provost Marshal / Police
What NOT to Do • Don’t leave them alone • Don’t assume they are not the type • Don’t act shocked • Don’t make moral judgments • Don’t keep this deadly secret
“Well, I don’t think they’re going to hurt themselves…” • Being right 99% of the time isn’t good enough • You aren’t the expert • Better to annoy your friend for a while than stand at their graveside saying “If only I’d have…” • “Coulda / Woulda / Shoulda” never saved anyone • Better safe than sorry
Be a Leader • Know your chain of command and local resources • Know the warning signs • Know your people • Identify at those at risk • Show you care • Be available • Take Action!