Suicide prevention is best addressed year-round
It's a myth that suicide ideations are more prevalent during the holidays, but what about after the holidays?
"Suicide rates are typically lowest in December, but begin increasing in the spring and fall," said U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Suicide Prevention Program Manager Yancy Chandler. "But it is something that should be addressed often, year-round."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting negative effects on individuals, families and communities. Although the reasons for suicide are more complicated and influenced by numerous factors, the goal of suicide prevention is straightforward: Reduce the factors that increase risk and increase factors that promote resilience. Suicide prevention should address several aspects of influence: individual, relationship and community.
Suicidal ideations and attempts increased last year compared to 2017, Chandler explained, and keeping the dialog open about this topic is paramount to make positive changes.
"Successful prevention approaches are necessary to foster suicide awareness and a social responsibility toward change," Chandler said. "Suicidal behaviors are so unique that you can't pinpoint an exact time when someone will exhibit the behavior, so you must be aware of the indicators."
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention stated that some indicators may include --
Someone talking about:
• Killing themselves
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Having no reason to live
• Being a burden to others
• Feeling trapped
• Unbearable pain
Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:
• Increased use of alcohol or drugs
• Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
• Withdrawing from activities
• Isolating from family and friends
• Sleeping too much or too little
• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
• Giving away prized possessions
People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:
• Loss of interest
• Relief/Sudden Improvement
Chandler said people may also notice someone withdrawing from friends and family.
"You may see some behavioral and personality changes that are drastically different from their typical behavior or personality -- that is a sign. Sometimes, it's not always reassuring to see someone go from being depressed to being happy because they might have a plan built," he explained. "So you need to be direct with someone when asking about suicide. Don't ask if they are thinking about 'hurting' themselves -- ask if they are thinking about 'ending their life.'"
While there are several helping agencies that can provide assistance, some people are reluctant because of the stigma associated with reaching out for help, Chandler said.
"For some, reaching out for help is associated with weakness," he said. "But I want people to know it's OK to reach out for help, because it's a sign of strength. There are some obstacles in our lives that we can't handle alone, so asking for assistance makes you stronger."
Resources available in the Rheinland-Pfalz include on-call chaplains (Kaiserslautern: 0162-296-9054 or Baumholder: 0162-270-8348), unit chain of command, behavioral health, Military Family Life Consultants:
• Baumholder: 0152-3652-2147
• Kleber Kaserne: 0175-792-3332
• Landstuhl: 0152-2479-2650
• Rhine Ordnance Barracks: 0175-601-1985
Military Crisis Line: 00800-1273-8255 or chat at militarycrisisline.net
Europe SHARP Hotline: 0611-143-537-4277
Domestic Violence Victim Advocate Hotline: 0162-296-7320
People can also take advantage of the suicide prevention courses offered as well.
Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)
Jan. 10-11 (Baumholder)
Feb. 21-22 (Kaiserslautern)
March 21-22 (Kaiserslautern)
For more Suicide Prevention Program information, visit the USAG RP website or visit the Army Substance Abuse Program Facebook page.