Mental Health Matters: Watch for signs of suicide
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This is Suicide Prevention Week and there are a number of things to report on this front.
This week, the Barack Obama administration released its new National Strategy on Suicide Prevention.
Although it is aimed at prevention across all lines, it does have a particular focus on military personnel and veterans, as well as young people.
What is refreshingly good to see is this strategy integrates with general health care — a step that needs to be taken in Canada.
People often fail to seek help because suicidal thoughts and depression — or mental illness in general — is too often seen as shameful rather than another health condition.
Another report from the U.S. has identified younger adolescent girls are less likely to receive treatment for depression than older adolescent females.
Two-thirds of older adolescent girls (15 to 17) with serious depression received treatment compared with only one-third of younger girls (12 to 14).
Of no surprise, it was reported this week exposure to graphic images showing violence has negative effects on mental health and on one’s general health.
People who watch a great deal of graphic images on television show marked increases in diagnosis of mental illness and physical condition two to three years later.
The growing economic crisis in Europe is causing an epidemic of depression and suicide.
Understandably, continuous stress, relationship breakdown and increased alcohol abuse would be predictable under these circumstances.
It is not a large leap to expect an increase in suicides and mental illnesses — and that is what is being noted now.
One of the keys to combatting the devastation left behind after suicide is to recognize the signs that someone is considering taking their own life: Suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, seeing no purpose in life, anxiety, feeling trapped, hopelessness or helplessness, withdrawal, anger, recklessness (for example in driving, sports, or unprotected sex) and mood changes (an unexplainable mood change from very low to very high can be as dangerous a sign as from very high to very low).
If you or a family member is showing a difficulty coping and is showing any of these warning signs, insist they be assessed by their physician.
First of all, burdens are reduced when shared, doctors see these kinds of symptoms often and are not judgemental about them and help may be easier than you first believe.
The key is act as soon as possible — delays are not helpful.
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