SUICIDE PREVENTION / JESUS CHAVEZ, LPC, LCDC-CCS
Why is suicide prevention important? How does suicide prevention relate to me? Let’s talk about suicide prevention. Suicidal ideations can happen to an individual that has been experiencing negative thoughts for an extended period of time, everyone processes negative thoughts differently. Ignored and/or unresolved negative thoughts sometimes lead to suicidal ideations. Negative thoughts happen following a negative experience, we all experience negative experiences. Some individuals have effective coping skills that they learned throughout their life that help them navigate through their problems while others lack effective coping skills. At times negative thoughts can be stopped before it manifests into something severe with or without the help of a mental health professional. One way negative thoughts can be stopped is through natural support. Natural supports are the relationships one has in their everyday life. I personally believe that suicide rates have increased throughout the years attributable to the decline of interpersonal skills. Technology, social media, and the stigma surrounding negative thoughts have gotten in the way of people’s ability to have heart felt conversations about mental health.
Quite honestly, nothing compares to having a conversation with someone in person. Through in-person communication, we get to pick up on nonverbal cues and body language which leads to better understanding. We need to make it a priority to check up on our loved ones when we notice “off” behaviors and ask them if they’re feeling okay or if they want to talk. Even if they respond that they are okay, monitoring their behaviors from a distance and trusting our gut is better than accepting the responsibility and moving on with our lives. Throughout my years responding to crisis calls, I’ve noticed a trend in how people respond to crisis situations. Unfortunate incidents happen when people don’t pick up on the red flag of the individual in need mainly because life nowadays is so fast-paced. Slowing down is not considered a primary option.
Accepting the fact that something is wrong with a loved one is hard to accept. I once read an article from Counseling Today titled “Suicidality Among Children and Adolescents” by Laurie Meyers. Verbatim stated that the rise of dual-income families, in which parents work demanding hours or multiple jobs for financial reasons or because of career demands, makes it difficult to find time for bonding, she asserts. Let’s say the average person spends 3-5 hours on their phone, it’s not hard to send a text message with a couple of sentences or a 5-minute phone call to check up on noticed isolated loved one. I fully understand that to individuals outside of the box, talking about suicide and death is very uncomfortable. It brings fear and anxiety that the unthought-of act can be a probable outcome if left unattended. Be familiar with resources available in your community for those needing mental health services, I can’t stress that enough.
Examples of resources would be a church, mental health clinic, hospital, and police department. These resources have their policy and procedures for helping individuals going through mental health problems. Prompt action and being proactive is detrimental to preventing suicide. It’s more helpful to encourage and ensure that your loved one talks to a mental health professional about their negative thoughts rather than feeling uncomfortable talking about suicide and being reactive in preventing suicide. Stigma is a key deterrent to the lack of advancement in suicide prevention. Ignorance and misinformation are of the many reasons why stigma around mental health and/or suicide prevention still exists. Relevant and irrelevant information is searched on the internet every day, we as a society should educate ourselves from credible sources on mental health and suicide prevention. Credible sources would include your primary care physician, school counselors, and mental health providers. Simply asking for more information about mental health shouldn’t be so complicated or filled with fear of being judged. The more we talk about mental health and/or suicide, the less stigma will surround it. That goes with every sensitive topic that exists in society today.
The majority of my experience in the field of mental health has been providing crisis intervention. From 2016-2020, I worked as a full-time mobile crisis outreach worker and as a contract crisis worker for the local mental health authority where I live. After 2020, I then added crisis counseling to my skill set as a Licensed Professional Counselor. In the area where I live and the counties that I’ve serviced from 2016-2020, almost every day at least one person experienced a crisis episode. I could not tell the exact number of crisis interventions I’ve conducted because it’s so many. There’s one thing that I can say that is factual from my working experience in the field of mental health, suicide is preventable.