Fredericksburg Parent

September 2019

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www.FredericksburgParent.NET 23 Lock your guns. Lock your meds. Talk safety. Talk often. YOU CAN PLAY A ROLE Families don't need special training to use the principles of Lock and Talk to help build a com- munity safety net that can prevent suicides in the Fredericksburg region. Visit websites like to learn how to lock lethal means in your home. Promote awareness and open discussion about mental health in your house with the following: • From toddlerhood, talk openly about feelings. Encourage children to put names to their feelings, whether they are pitching a fit, laughing with joy or weeping. • Acknowledge your own feelings and talk about them with your kids. • As kids get into middle and high school, encourage open conversation about the behaviors they see among their friends and in media they consume. • Know the warning signs of a mental health crisis, and teach them to your kids. Encourage them to intervene or tell an adult if they see a peer in trouble. • Pay special attention to young people who have recently gone through a difficult life transition or the breakup of a romantic relationship. Sadness is normal, but sadness that lasts more than two weeks and is paired with a loss of interest in activities and friendships the individual previously enjoyed is a sign they may need help. SUICIDE PREVENTION: A MESSAGE OF HOPE Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages and ethnicities can be at risk. Knowing the facts can help us all play a role in creating a healthier community. • In Virginia, data collected since 2003 show that an average of 916 people die by suicide each year. For every homicide, an average of 2.4 deaths by suicide occur. • In the Fredericksburg region, 58 people died by suicide in 2016, the most recent year for which data are available. • Warning signs include: - Talking about wanting do die or kill oneself; preoccupation with death - Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live - Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly - Sleeping too little or too much; feeling isolated or withdrawn - Making arrangements and getting personal affairs in order - Increasing use of alcohol or drugs - Giving away prized possessions - Suddenly appearing happier or calmer - Displaying extreme mood swings - Loss of interest in the things a person previously cared about • Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that many suicide attempts occur with little planning during a short-term crisis, and 90 percent of attempters who survive do NOT go on to die by suicide. This shows how important it is to restrict access to lethal means for those at risk. MAKE THE CALL. SAVE A LIFE. In an emergency, call local law enforcement at 911 and ask for a Crisis Intervention Trained officer. If you or someone you know is in crisis, RACSB Emergency Services Therapists are available 24/7 at 540-373-6876. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 or COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUICIDE MYTH: "People who talk about suicide won't really do it." TRUTH: Do not ignore any suicide threats. Almost everyone who attempts or com- pletes suicide has shown warning signs through words or behaviors. MYTH: "If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her." TRUTH: Most suicidal people do not want to die; they want to stop the pain. The impulse to end their life does not last forever. MYTH: "Talking about suicide will put the idea in a person's head." TRUTH: You do not give the person ideas about suicide by talking about it. For those at risk, the idea is already there. Providing the opportunity to discuss feelings openly and safely is one of the most helpful things you can do.

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