Emergency Contacts, Lifelines, and Suicide Prevention Information and Resources

Suicide statistics in the U.S.

• Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. for all ages. (CDC)

• Everyday, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)

• There is one death by suicide in the U.S. every 12 minutes. (CDC)

• Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)

• Suicide takes the lives of over 44,965 Americans every year. (CDC)

• Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)

• 80%-90% of people who seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and or medication. (TADS study)

• An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors. (AAS)

Resource:
https://save.org/about-suicide/suicide-facts/

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, in 2017:

  • Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of over 47,000 people.
  • Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.
  • There were more than twice as many suicides (47,173) in the United States as there were homicides (19,510).

Resource:
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml

No suicide attempt should be dismissed or taken lightly.


Why do people attempt suicide?

“A suicide attempt is a clear indication that something is gravely wrong in a person’s life. No matter the race or age of the person; how rich or poor they are, it is true that most people who die by suicide have a mental or emotional disorder. The most common underlying disorder is depression, 30% to 70% of suicide victims suffer from major depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder.”

Resource:
https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/suicide


Do you know what to do if you think that someone is considering suicide?

If You Think Someone Is Considering Suicide:

• Trust your instincts that the person may be in trouble.

• Talk with the person about your concerns. Communication needs to include LISTENING.

* Listen to understand. *

You don’t have to know all of the answers or even some of the answers, just being with a person can be powerful.

• Ask direct questions without being judgmental. Determine if the person has a specific plan to carry out the suicide. The more detailed the plan, the greater the risk.

• Get professional help, even if the person resists.

• Do not leave the person alone.

• Do not swear to secrecy.

• Do not act shocked or judgmental.

• Do not counsel the person yourself.

Resource:
https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/suicide


List of national emergency resources for suicide prevention, substance abuse disaster distress, domestic violence, child abuse, adult and elderly abuse

Finish Stronger Counseling – Emergency Contacts and Lifelines

* Please note that this list may be subject to change as organizations, companies, and government update their websites and other information. *


Check out these charities and articles to find out how you can help

Charity Navigator


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


Very Well Mind – Leading Mental Health Charities and Organizations


The Recovery Village – Mental Health First Aid for Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors


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Connoquenessing Valley Heritage Trail, PA

Beach Ball Metaphor for Coping with Emotional Dysregulation

I first heard of the beach ball metaphor while watching a video through PESI (one of my continuing education providers). Arielle Schwartz, PhD uses the beach ball metaphor to explain how we can manage our dysregulated emotions. Arielle Schwartz, PhD provides a mind-body healing exercise that can help trauma survivors process their negative emotions without becoming overwhelmed by them.

I hope that you find this metaphor helpful in understanding how we can better regulate our emotions and nourish our nervous systems.

Beach Ball

Imagining something that we don’t want to hold or feel. – This is the beach ball. We’re pushing it down and trying to hold it under water. It wants to come back up to the surface. Sometimes, we do this temporarily, called “containment,” as we run to the store or parent the kids, then return. If we’re constantly and chronically trying to hold the ball down, avoidance, at some point, it is exhausting and taxing. This can lead to causing other issues, the ball coming up and causing a splash. Then, we have to gather the ball back up and push it down.

We want to understand the dysregulated feeling or memory. We want to turn towards it. Understand the sensation and emotion in small parts, at a slower, appropriate pace, so that the ball comes to the surface without making a big splash. We have a little more control and can push it back down.

We do this therapeutically. “Pendulation” (meaning, turning towards the distress) in small, tolerable parts, taking off some pressure. Next, we pendulate from the distress and turn towards the resource. A resource can be the therapeutic relationship, or the breath, or a cue of safety (like a flower or plant in the room, or something out the window), so we oscillate between the stress and ease. We take a break, and then, check-in. The pattern is distress, then resource, distress, resource, distress, resource.

This combats the “negativity bias,” (meaning we are wired for survival and to scan our environment for threats). We need to consciously counteract this by looking for the good and nourishing our nervous system. Nourishing can look like a relationship with someone who feels safe, or our pet, who we feel connected to.  

Death Valley National Park, CA

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How to Get Through the Day When the World Seems to be Falling Apart

These 12 tips are specific to living through a pandemic (COVID-19) where there are multiple tragic events and crisis occurring at once on a worldwide scale.

A brief overview of the destruction that COVID-19 has caused

• People are ill and dying from a virus.

• People are socially isolated from family and friends.

• People are restricted in where they can go and what they can do.

• People have lost jobs and are financially unstable.

– Connected to all of this is the person’s identity because people identify themselves through going out and participating.

• Political issues, finger pointing and name calling are a big part of this pandemic.

• People wear face masks to reduce spread of the virus, but the mask also hides smiles.

• Anxiety, depression and suicide is on the rise.

• People are silently hurting.

The benefits of these tips are (but not limited to)

• Increased happiness

• Connection to others

• Raising awareness

• Fostering positivity

• Finding value and meaning in life

• Learning coping strategies

• Finding help

Keep in mind that this article isn’t telling you to ignore, dismiss, or minimize what’s going on around us. It is important to sit with the difficult emotions and thoughts, to process, and personally grow from what’s occurring in our lives. We can’t run, there needs to be a resolution to do something about it, but there needs to be a balance and healthy approach.

Let’s cover the tips on getting through

1) Limit your time on social media and watching the news. Be informed and have proper understanding about what’s going on around the world, but don’t allow the information to overwhelm and carry you away. The information on social media and the news shouldn’t occupy a good portion of your day.

2) Mute or unfollow people on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if they are posting unhelpful information on the pandemic or are posting frequently on the pandemic. Always check the resource of what they post to make sure it is true and accurate. There is a lot of information being shared that is inaccurate or highly one-sided. Be your own researcher, fact-checker, and it is beneficial to try to see from both sides of an issue. Widening perspective allows us to have a more open mind and gives us a little more breathing room.

3) Use social media and technology to your advantage. Since we have to limit being around others or can’t be around people at all, use social media to connect and to lift up others. Post something kind or funny. Post a beautiful picture. Have an engaging conversation, but leave out the pandemic and political issues surrounding it. You can lift someone’s spirit and your own!

We use video platforms on almost a daily basis now, continue to use it to connect. Talk to a good friend who you haven’t seen in a while. Use video platforms to check-in with a person’s mental health, you don’t know who is suffering in silence.

Are you feeling unsure about how to check-in? This link will lead you to check-in questions:

https://finishstrongercounseling.com/2020/05/29/just-checking-in/

Do you have a favorite hobby or interest? Join and follow social media groups and pages to motivate and fuel your interests.

4) Virtual tours, adventures and visits. If you are looking for something new and interesting to do without leaving your house, take a virtual trip to a National Park, zoo, museum, etc. Think of somewhere that you’ve never been and would like to go. Read about it, look at pictures, watch videos, and take a virtual tour. This is fun activity to do with kids and it’s educational.

If you’re religious or spiritual, consider attending a virtual service or practice.

5) Teach someone about your hobby or trade. Write, blog, create social media content, and make a video to do so. Engage with people, answer their questions, and provide them with credible resources so they can learn more.

5) Increase your self-care. Do more of what you enjoy and try new things, even if you don’t feel like it. Take care of your body and mind. Try to keep to a normal schedule, this includes proper exercise, diet, and staying hydrated. If you’re overwhelmed with work, schedule in self-care. Slow down, read a book, take a bath, watch a movie, call someone you care about.

6) Make a vision board to stay focused on your long-term goals. Read how here:

Vision Board

7) Journal. Read about journaling here if it interests you:

The Benefits of Keeping a Journal and Journal Prompts

8) Practice mindfulness, breathing and or meditation. Find someone who provides these services online if you need help getting started. Create a YouTube playlist of relaxing music and sounds that you can practice to. Don’t give up if these exercises don’t immediately benefit you in an impactful way, it takes time to learn them. It’s a process.

9) Use online presence to raise awareness or funds for a cause that you’re passionate about. Help people learn more, support people who need it the most, connect to others who care about the same thing as you. Feel good!

10) Use positive affirmations and practice them regularly. Read more and find examples here.

11) Have a safety plan and an emergency plan. For the safety plan:

• Write down what triggers maladaptive behaviors.

• Write coping strategies for each trigger that you can participate in right away.

• Write down three positive affirmations or favorite quotes.

• List three people whom you can trust to call and talk to and receive support from (Do ahead of time: make sure that they know they are on your safety plan list and tell them how they can best support you if you contact them.) (Ideas on how they can help: this can range from a phone call to recall favorite memories or to meet up for coffee.).

• If your situation turns into an emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or your local mental health crisis lifeline. Add these emergency phone numbers to your safety plan.

Here’s a simple example of a safety plan.

12) Speak with a professional counselor. They can teach you several coping strategies and powerful tools like cognitive reframing. They are someone who will be present with you, be non-judgmental, listen, and provide feedback. They will support you and give you space for you to process your strongest emotions and thoughts.

Check out these other benefits to seeing a counselor:

The Value of Seeing a Therapist: what does your therapist do when they’re not in session

Give teletherapy a try, it is convenient and you receive the same mental health benefits as you would during an in-office session.

If you’re not sure where to find a counselor, use a directory like Psychology Today or TherapyDen. There are several other counselor directories out there.

These are only a dozen tips on getting through a pandemic and crisis. Share your ideas and tips below. Please share this article to reach others.

Be well!

Baker Trail, Cook Forest State Park, PA

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Just Checking In

10 questions to check in on someone’s mental well-being

1. How are you feeling, really? (Mental and physical)
2. What’s taking up your headspace right now?
3. What was your last full meal and have you been drinking enough water?
4. Have you been sleeping?
5. What have you been doing for exercise?
6. What did you do today that made you feel good?
7. What’s something you can do today that would be good for you?
8. What’s something that you’re looking forward to in the next couple of days?
9. What’s something we can do together this week, even if we’re apart?
10. What are you grateful for right now?

Resource:

idontmind.com

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Safety Plan on an Index Card

Materials and instructions

Materials: an index card; colored pencils; markers; crayons; stickers.

Instructions: this crafty project is for children and adolescents who need a little reminder of their most effective coping skills or ways to help them to stay safe when they are feeling overwhelmed or escalated. Having a safety plan written on an index card is accessible, can be kept hidden to protect privacy, or shown to a trusted adult (teacher or family member) when additional support is needed.

A safety plan can contain any number of coping skills or strategies that will help de-escalate a reaction to a situation. I like to ask children and adolescents to choose five things that they find most helpful to do when they feel like they are losing control or feeling unsafe. Five is a good number because it gives a variety of options to choose from. The child or adolescent can choose what they feel will be best option for in the moment.

When creating the card, sometimes figuring out coping skills and strategies is challenging and requires children and adolescents to really think; an adult who knows the child should help come up with ideas. These need to be things that can be used immediately, in the here and now. Try to avoid requiring any specific toys or equipment because that requires extra effort. The things also need to be very detailed and specific. Being detailed and specific will promote brain change and way of thinking. Write the coping skills and strategies on the index card and decorate it!

Examples of coping skills and strategies:

  • Counting to ten in my mind while taking deep, easy breathes.
  • Notice five things in the room and what color, shape or texture they are.
  • Sing a song.
  • Think about my favorite memory.
  • Think about my favorite pet.
  • Use a fidget toy.
  • Read a book.
  • Listen to music.
  • Think of a positive self affirmation.
  • Curl and uncurl my toes ten times.
  • Draw.
  • Stretch my legs and arms.
  • Dance.
  • Puzzle.
  • Ride my bike.
  • Notice three scents and where they are coming from.
  • Feel the texture of my clothing.

Where to keep the safety plan

This card can be kept in many different places, but keep it easily accessible, which means carrying it around:

  • In a pocket.
  • In a desk, locker or lunch box at school.
  • In a backpack.
  • On the refrigerator or a mirror at home (better if there are two or more are created).
  • Kept on a coffee table, dining room table or night stand.
  • Used as a bookmark.
My safety plan example, displayed on the refrigerator. Being completely transparent, these are my coping skills of choice 😊

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