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Vail Daily health: Pay attention for suicide prevention

Desperate
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To help

SpeakUp ReachOut’s Community Walk & Heartbeat Memorial Balloon Launch is Saturday, Sept. 13, 8:30 a.m., in Eagle’s Brush Creek Park.

Locally, SpeakUp ReachOut, a suicide prevention organization, meets the third Thursday of every month, 4 p.m., in the Avon Municipal Building. Call 970-748-4410 or go to speakupreachout.org.

Suicide warning signs

Talking about wanting to kill themselves, or saying they wish they were dead

Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as hoarding medicine or buying a gun

Talking about a specific suicide plan

Feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

Feeling trapped, desperate, or needing to escape from an intolerable situation

Having the feeling of being a burden to others

Feeling humiliated

Having intense anxiety and/or panic attacks

Losing interest in things, or losing the ability to experience pleasure

Insomnia

Becoming socially isolated and withdrawn from friends, family, and others

Acting irritable or agitated

Showing rage, or talking about seeking revenge for being victimized or rejected, whether or not the situations the person describes seem real

Take action

If the person is threatening, talking about, or making specific plans for suicide, this is a crisis requiring immediate attention. Do not leave the person alone.

Remove any firearms, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used for suicide from the area.

Take the person to a walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital or a hospital emergency room.

If these options are not available, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for assistance.

Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Colorado launches statewide Mental Health Crisis Hotline

The Colorado Department of Human Services (DHS) formally launched a statewide mental health crisis hotline in August. The hotline is the result of legislation passed in 2013 that aimed to expand the state’s crisis response system by establishing a hotline; walk-in crisis stabilization facilities and a statewide awareness campaign. Plans were put on hold due to legal challenges that resulted from the bidding process; however, DHS was able to move forward with the hotline and walk-in crisis centers after an injunction was lifted in June. The Colorado Crisis and Support Line will provide Coloradans with access to mental health professionals 24/7 who can assess and plan for their safety; provide solutions and support; and make referrals to resources. Coloradans seeking help can call 844-493-TALK (8255).

When comedian Robin Williams and author-activist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide, they did it alone.

Williams hung himself. Thompson shot himself. Williams suffered from Parkinson’s disease and depression. Thompson was in chronic pain from a broken leg and hip replacement.



Suicide is not painless

The theme song to the old television series M*A*S*H is “Suicide is Painless,” but it’s a lie.



Suicide does hurt, especially those left behind, said SpeakUp Reach Out, the local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“Robin Williams brought laughter into every life he touched; Robin also suffered from depression,” the organization said. “It is our hope that we are able to have an open conversation that depression and addictions are real illnesses that can sometimes be fatal.”

Every 13 minutes someone dies from suicide in the United States, making it among the top 10 causes of death in the nation.



People sometimes drive to the mountains to commit suicide. If they’re from Denver or some other city, they’re recorded as a Denver death. However, if they kill themselves in Eagle County, it’s recorded as a local suicide.

By state reckoning, Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle, Summit and Grand counties are one health statistics region, and it has one of Colorado’s lowest suicide rates — 13.7 to 15.6 per 100,000 people — the bottom 25 percent, according to the Office of Suicide Prevention. The statewide average for 2008 to 2012 was 17.4 per 100,000.

For Erin Cochrane-Ivie, the new executive director at Eagle County’s suicide prevention coalition Speak Up Reach Out, it’s personal. She was raised in Eagle and in 2007, a close friend with whom she grew up took his own life days before his 22nd birthday. She can rattle off seven other suicides in Eagle County by people in the 13 to 30 age range.

“That’s when I realized there’s something wrong and I decided to get involved,” Cochrane-Ivie said.

SpeakUp ReachOut’s mission is to raise awareness of mental health issues, warning signs, effective interventions and treatment.

Nearly 3,000 people on average commit suicide daily, according to the World Health Organization. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives. About 1 million people die by suicide each year.

“It is important to bear in mind that the large majority of people with mental disorders or other suicide risk factors do not engage in suicidal behavior,” said Alexis O’Brien, of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

If someone is talking about suicide, chances are good they may try it. Between half and 75 percent of all people who attempt suicide tell someone about their intention, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said.

THE DOCTOR AND MORK

The world mourned Williams and his comedic genius, the like of which we may never see again. His ashes were scattered across San Francisco Bay, near his home.

Thompson’s funeral was like his life. His ashes were blown into the sky from a cannon on top of a 50-yard high tower of his own design, as fireworks and Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” and Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” accompanied everything.

Williams left no note. Technically, Thompson didn’t either, although four days before his death in Feb. 20, 2005, he wrote: “No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your ol age. Relax — This won’t hurt.”

“A person who is thinking about suicide may say so directly: ‘I’m going to kill myself.’ More commonly, they may say something more indirect: ‘I just want the pain to end,’ or ‘I can’t see any way out,’” O’Brien said. “If someone you know shows the warning signs above, the time to act is now.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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