One of the last acts of some sorrowful, angry minds, a suicide shatters everyone it touches. From the searing, indescribable pain afflicted upon family members, friends and even acquaintances, suicide wounds the hearts of loved ones, and what they thought they once knew, changed.
According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death among Kansas of all ages in 2010. The monetary cost of suicide in Kansas was nearly 500 million dollars, including medical and lifetime costs.
To help combat suicide locally, the Suicide Prevention Task Force of the Central Kansas Partnership and the Barton County Health Department will have a program on “Suicide Prevention for Communities: What We Can Do.” Dr. Jason Deselms, suicide prevention coordinator at the Robert Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita, will speak at 7 p.m. on Sept. 12 at the Crest Theatre, 1905 Lakin. There is no charge for the event.
He will offer practical steps for family and friends on suicide prevention.
Dr. Deselms listed some of the warning signs: observable signs of depression, low mood, hopelessness, pessimism and overall negative outlook, anxiety, the inner tension of emotional pain, and overall withdrawal from friends and family as a change from previous behavior.
“The onset of serious depression increases the risk for suicide,” said Dr. Deselms. He also listed increased alcohol use, risk-taking behavior, and talking about death or dying, including threatening suicide.
Comments such as “you’d be better off without me or this is never going to get better” are also warning signs.
“Always act, always ask,” said Dr. Deselms. “If you are concerned, you always need to take action.”
In Kansas, firearms are the greatest cause of death with poisoning and suffocation either second or third depending on the age group.
White males between the ages of 45-54 have the highest death rate from suicide for 2006-2010.
For help at the local level, The Center for Counseling and Consultation offers this advice:
• If someone is suicidal, call law enforcement, walk into the Emergency Room or call The Center during business hours to see an on call person.
•If someone has a loved one they are worried about committing suicide, call Law Enforcement to do a wellness check.
•Counseling is available at The Center.
•Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) (1-800-273-8255).
•There is a website for survivors of suicide, www.allianceofhope.org.