Suicide: help is available
With two high-profile celebrities completing the act of suicide within a short span in recent weeks, the public consciousness has been raised to the epidemic of suicide and how even the most seemingly well-adjusted and successful individuals may be dealing with mental health issues that are never brought to light. Yet celebrities’ deaths are no more (or less) tragic than the deaths of the over 3,000 individuals world-wide who take their own lives each day. This sobering, daunting reality can go by unnoticed if it’s not affecting someone in your family or social circle; someone you know and love. More troubling still is the fact that when suicide is front-page news, or a celebrity takes his or her own life, there’s a social contagion phenomenon that actually causes a spike in the number of suicides.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), if someone you know is thinking about or talking about taking their life, it should always be taken seriously. Suicidal thoughts can be life threatening. Let them know their life matters to you. Ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide (saying the word won’t “plant the idea” in anyone’s brain), whether they have a plan and the means to carry it through. Stay with them and help them find treatment. If you fear someone is at imminent risk of suicide, call 911 or get them to a local emergency department.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem; suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting better. If you are contemplating suicide, please—don’t do it. Help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800/273-TALK.
It’s astonishing how, in this day and age, issues of stigma and shame persist when it comes to mental illnesses—neurobiological brain disorders as real as any other physical illness, like epilepsy, diabetes, or cancer. The brain is an organ of the body susceptible to illness as much as the heart or the pancreas; there should be no shame or stigma in seeking help. Mental-health services are available locally through many qualified private practitioners. In Sullivan County, if you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, reach out to the Mobile Mental Health Team in Sullivan County at 845/790-0911. The Mobile Mental Health Team is staffed by mental health professionals from Rockland Psychiatric Center who are available to speak with you 24/7. There is also a Sullivan County Department of Community Services (SCDCS) at 20 Community Lane in Liberty. The SCDCS Clinic operates on a sliding scale and “open access” allows you to see a practitioner without an appointment Monday through Thursday mornings. For information or to speak with someone at the SCDCS Clinic, phone 845/292-8770.
In Wayne County, there is a suicide prevention task force; its crisis intervention hotline is 570/253-0321, and the contact number for the task force director is 570/253-0321. In Pike County, crisis intervention is handled by Carbon-Monroe-Pike Mental Health and Developmental Services; telephone crisis workers are available 24/7 at 570/992-0879. Walk-in services are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 10 Buist Rd., Suite 404 in Milford, PA.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a mental illness, you are not alone, and there is help. NAMI Sullivan County, NY is the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In Wayne and Pike counties, PA, the NAMI affiliate is NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania (www.namikeystonepa.org); the only nearby local affiliate is in Scranton, but Pennsylvanians can and do attend some of NAMI Sullivan’s meetings. Primarily a family support and advocacy organization, NAMI Sullivan offers the a variety of support groups; see below. For more information about any of the support or education programs NAMI Sullivan provides, phone 845/794-1029.
[Lori Schneider is the executive director of NAMI Sullivan County.]
NAMI Connection: 2 p.m. on the first and third Monday of the month at 20 Crystal St., Monticello, NY
Sharing and Caring Family Support Groups: 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at 20 Crystal St., Monticello, NY; 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month in the Atrium Room at Bon Secours Hospital in Port Jervis, NY.
Bereavement Support Group: 6:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month, 20 Crystal St., Monticello, NY
These meetings are free, confidential and a safe place to share.