When the crisis is over, that's when real help is needed

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

It’s heartening to see the response from people our region as well as all over the country to Hurricane Harvey. That ranges from donations of goods and money to volunteers who helped in the rescue and even to friends and relatives who will help rebuild ravaged communities in the affected zone.

Such efforts are therapeutic, both for the people receiving the help and the people providing it.

As time drags on, reality sets in, and that’s when the most important time for help arrives.

We’ve just passed the traditional last weekend of summer, and it’s easy to be disappointed with unfulfilled expectations for vacation time, if not depressed over the news — flooding in Texas, fires in the mountains, uncertainty in Washington and North Korea.

This September may be worse than most when it comes to depressing news, but perhaps it was appropriate to designate it as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, one of the agencies that provide intervention and mental health services in the state, points out that suicide takes a life every 13 minutes and is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

Mental illness can be caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors, and is no respecter of age, ethnicity, gender or income.

The year 2015 saw a 40-year high in suicide rates, taking the lives of 20 veterans a day as well as young women and residents of rural communities.

According to Lindsay Kroll of LFS, learning the following warning signs of suicide could help save someone’s life:

· Withdrawing from loved ones and activities.

· Changes in sleep patterns or eating habits.

· Drug or alcohol abuse.

· Having mood swings.

· Feelings of hopelessness or unbearable pain.

· Talking about being a burden to others.

· Family history of suicide, mental disorder or substance abuse.

· Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse.

· Engaging in risky or reckless behavior.

· Talking or writing about wanting to die.

· Saying goodbye or giving away possessions.

· Looking for a way to kill themselves.

“This is not a secret they have to keep, and they should not worry about being judged. There are so many people in our community who are willing to listen and provide support and help,” Kroll said. “It is ok to have these thoughts, and it is what we do about them that makes all the difference. There are other options to relieve the pain and suffering they are experiencing, but sometimes it is just harder for them to see those options on their own.”

Talking to a loved one about their feelings and behaviors may reduce their risk of acting on suicidal thoughts, she said. If you feel a loved one is in immediate danger, seek emergency help by calling 911, contact a mental health professional, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.LFS helps those suffering from mental illnesses and suicidal thoughts by providing confidential, individualized counseling services, regardless of the ability to pay.

More information on Lutheran Family Services is available at LFSNeb.org

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