Suicide Prevention Awareness Week is September 5th through 11th
September 5th through the 11th is Suicide Prevention Awareness Week. In order to bring more awareness to this critical issue, Seneca Health Services, Inc. is partnering with county commissions in Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Nicholas and Webster counties to host a day of information about suicide prevention and other mental health services. Wanda Wyatt, a clinical social worker with Seneca Health Services in Marlinton explains what the event, scheduled for Friday Sept 10th, entails.
“Friday, we are setting up at the courthouse. We plan on handing out information about suicide awareness and hopefully we can make some connections to help people recognize the importance of mental health and substance use and helping people who are struggling.”
They will be set up in front of the courthouse from 11am to 4pm. In addition to information about suicide prevention awareness and other mental health issues, you can also sign up to enter a raffle for a $50.00 gift card that will be given away at the end of the day.
Mental health is a topic that’s been getting more attention lately, especially thanks to some very high-profile athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles. Wyatt says they’ve seen an uptick in calls for their services, especially during the pandemic.
“We have had an increase, especially over the COVID. And it’s kinda on a national trend that’s actually going up as well. We’ve definitely had a lot of overdoses and suicide attempts in the last several months that has impacted our community.”
She explains the assistance that is available when someone has unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide.
“There’s several things. If they did contact 9-1-1 or through Seneca, we try to get them help either through hospitalization, or if they don’t want to be hospitalized, we try to do safety plans and have them come into Seneca or another therapist in the county, because we have several to make sure on a daily basis that we are in contact with them making sure they are okay.”
That daily contact may be for a few days up to a week.
“If they do end up in the hospital, then they get transferred to a different hospital for psychiatric services. And when they come out hopefully they will hook up with us or one of the other agencies in the county for follow up services.”
For families who may suspect that someone is suicidal, Wyatt recommends to talk with them in a non-judgmental way, letting them know that you’re willing to listen and help. For those who aren’t comfortable talking with a family member, there is also the National Lifeline for Suicide or the Seneca Lifeline, both of which are available anytime of day.
“One of the other things to do is to make sure they don’t have the lethal means to follow through with the attempt. Make sure they can’t get to any guns, try to secure the knives; if they say they’re going to overdose on their medicines try to make sure they don’t have access to those means.”
Seneca also offers counseling to those whose loved ones have committed suicide. It can be a devasting loss leaving loved ones to second-guess if they could have done more to prevent it.
And they are working with Veteran peer-to-peer groups and the Veterans Administration to provide counseling.
“We have peer recovery coaches that are helping with Veterans. And depending on what time of year, it depends on anniversary dates of various military campaigns, the amount of suicides kind of go up.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you may call the National Lifeline for Suicide at 1-800-273-8255 or the Seneca Lifeline at 304-799-6865. Both are available 24/7.