Monday, November 2, 2009

Montana Issue and Ideas

I attended the MT State Crime Prevention Conference a couple weeks ago. One of the best sessions I attended was the one on Montana's issue that we don't like to discuss, suicide. For the last 30 years, Montana has ranked in the top five for suicide rates in the nation. This year we are third in the nation. Grim statistic but it was a good presentation which pointed out ways to cut this number.

This is on a prepper blog because I believe that part of our duty as preppers is to educate our neighbors, family, and co workers in preparation and in encouraging good mental attitudes. The two presenters covered this grim subject in such a dynamic and optimistic way that we all learned lessons we probably would never have picked up otherwise. Karl Rosston, a LCSW and the State Suicide Prevention Coordinator, gave us the facts and figures as well as information on formal programs and simple interventions which could make the difference between life and death. Don Wetzel Jr., Director of Planting Seeds of Hope, gave the perspective from Indian Country and inspired with his talk re: the importance of reconnecting with one's traditions.

Important things for us as preppers to remember. The problem is not suicide, it is the person's perceived lack of options or feeling trapped. Sure, sometimes the person is "crying out for attention" or help; but we must take all suicidal behavior as serious. We are all "gatekeepers", we all need to be able to ask that hard question, "are you suicidal"? According to Rosston, asking that question can often be key in starting a conversation with the suicidal person. The critical period is not while the person is suicidally depressed, it is in the 90 days after the person's depression starts to lift.

And, studies show that for every completed suicide, there are six survivors. Given that we have about 180-200 suicides/year here in Montana, that means tha there are about 1,100 new suicide survivors in Montana every year! We need to break this chain of tragedy for them and for all of us. SAee the link for AFSP below for more information.

Practical measures that both proposed included overcoming the stigma of being suicidal by building on our Montana tradition of neighbors looking out for each other, and minimizing the gossip factor present in our multitude of small communities. Also, anything we can do to bridge our vast spaces and connect someone in crisis with help is useful as our geography itself can encourage suicidality as people are isolated from each other. We also learned a simple intervention model called QPR

  • Ask The Question
  • DON'T ask: "suicide is dumb, you're not thinking about it are you?" or start The Question with "why?" (tends to make them defensive, not communicative)
  • If you can't ask The Question, find someone who can
  • Listen and give your full attention
  • Don't rush to judgment
  • Offer hope somehow, someway
  • Then offer to help; get them to come with you to help, try to get them to agree to hang on until they get to help
  • Suicidal people tend to be "hard sells" on the possibility of help for their situation; be prepared to give your best oratory
  • Best referral is getting the person immediately to a professional helper
  • Next best is getting the person to commit to seek help, then you arrange the appointment
  • If you have to, give referral information and try to get a commitment from the person not to suicide, even if it is not until after the appointment
Don Wetzel's program has a good motto for all of us to keep in mind: "Honor Your Life, Honor Your Ancestors". His talk dealt with this issue of cultural alienation as a strong factor for both Native Americans and others. In Montana, suicide is the number one cause of death for children aged 10-14. And in Montana, the suicide rate for Native Americans ages 15-24 is three times the national rate. Alienation is a big part of this. Keeping our culture strong and keeping the communication clear with our children will help with this.

Here are some resources for further study or referral: (Planting Seeds of Hope) (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) (Resource on child and adolescent depression, etc.) (Good source for written materials and statistics) NGO here that provides education, outreach, advocacy and sponsors the Warm Line

Montana Statewide Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (National number routed regionally depending on prefix of phone number)
Helpline Mental Health Center, Billings 252-5658
Community Crisis Center, Billings 259-8800
Voices of Hope; Great Falls, North and NE Montana 268-1330
Center for Mental health; Helena 443-5353
Gilder House Crisis Line; Butte 723-7995
Help Center; Bozeman, S. Central and SW Montana 586-3333
Montana Warm Line (Support service for referral or just talking, not a crisis line) 877-688-3377

1 comment:

Kymber said...

Thank you for sharing this excellent information! The QPR is something that anyone can do if they suspect that someone is suicidal.

i really like and agree with your line "This is on a prepper blog because I believe that part of our duty as preppers is to educate our neighbors, family, and co workers in preparation and in encouraging good mental attitudes". i really couldn't agree more.

Thanks for sharing information on a very grim subject in a very straightforward and positive manner!

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