If friend, relative threatens suicide, don't hesitate to act

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's not a subject most of us like to think about, much less talk about, but every 16 minutes, another American chooses to end his or her life through suicide.

They leave behind friends and relatives with guilt and regret, broken hearts and questions that will never be answered.

Lutheran Family Services, one of the agencies tasked with helping survivors deal with suicide, as well as preventing it in the first place, is urging Nebraskans to face the problem head-on.

By recognizing the symptoms, said Pegg Siemek-Asche, state director of Behavioral Health Services for Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, you may be able to save a life.

On Friday, World Suicide Prevention Day, Siemek-Asche said "it is important to follow your instincts when if comes to these situations."

"Don't beat around the bush. If someone you love is exhibiting symptoms -- ask directly if they are considering suicide. Listen, acknowledge their pain, and call for help," she said.

Some of the common signs, symptoms and risk factors for depression and other mood disorders that increase the risk of suicide:

Threatening to hurt or kill oneself

Looking for ways to kill oneself, seeking access to pills, weapons or other means

Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide

Expressing hopelessness

Feeling worthless, no reason for living, no sense of purpose in life

Feeling rage or anger, seeking revenge

Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking

Feeling trapped, like there is no way out

Increasing alcohol or drug use

Withdrawing from family, friends or society

Experiencing anxiety or agitation, being unable to sleep or sleeping all the time

Underdoing dramatic changes in mood

In 2009, Siemek-Asche pointed out, Lutheran Family Services Behavior Health programs treated 6,773 clients across Nebraska, including those in crisis situations and those needing ongoing counseling and mental health therapies.

More information is available at www.lfsneb.org, or in case of emergency, call 9-1-1.

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