“Always Ask, Always Act,” said Dr. Jason Deselms, suicide prevention coordinator for the VA Hospital and city of Wichita. In an effort to increase understanding of suicide and how to prevent it, Dr. Deselms spoke to area residents on Wednesday on “Break the silence: Responding to suicide risk in your community.”
“It takes community effort,” said Dr. Deselms. “Break the silence; it can’t just be about professionals.”
“Suicide is the attempt to deal with unrelenting emotional/physical pain,” said Deselms. “The suicide mindset is in this life it is not difficult to die. It is more difficult to live.
“This mindset develops over a period of time,” he said. “Attend to your neighbors, friends and relatives.”
He warned people that you can do everything right and it can still have a negative outcome. Then there are 6-8 survivors that have to make sense of the suicide.
Men succeed at suicide at four times a greater rate although women attempt it more. People 65 or older has the highest rate of any age group.
The warning signs of suicide are:
•A fixation with death or violence; violent mood swings; difficulty adjusting to gender identity; and signs of depression such as worsening of school, work performance, withdrawal from friends, expression of sadness or rage, sudden unexplained decline in energy, overreaction to criticism, indecision, low self-esteem, increased agitation, changes in sleeping or eating, unprovoked episodes of crying, neglect of personal hygiene, alcohol or drug use, and being tired.
The signs demanding immediate action are:
•Announcing that person has made a suicide plan, talking about suicide, saying “I wish I were dead,” staying by themselves, saying that life is meaningless, giving away prized possessions, neglecting appearance, or obtaining a weapon.
Watch for warning signs in combination with any of the following:
•A recent suicide of friend, a recent breakup, purchasing or searching for firearms, impulsiveness or risk taking, lack of connection to friends and a previous suicide attempt.
•Depression signs and ongoing mental health issue such as bipolar disease.
Dr. Deselms said that if you are concerned about somebody, always ask them if they are considering suicide. He said if the answer is yes, don’t leave them alone and seek immediate help. Locally help would be available through The Center for Counseling and Consultation or by calling 911.
He also recommends letting them know you care and that you are there to help.
“The worst feeling in the world is not taking action when you could have,” said Dr. Deselms. “Suicide is a serious public health issue.
“People of all ages are at risk for suicide,” said Deselms. “Suicide is preventable in most cases.”