Health organizations stress knowledge during Suicide Awareness Prevention Month

MECOSTA COUNTY — Approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide, according to the World Health Organization.

Feelings of shame and the stigma surrounding suicide continue to be barriers for many affected to speak openly.

However, as mental health officials recognize September as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, those barriers have continued to come down over the years on the taboo and stigmatized topic, said Catherine Beagle, program coordinator for Community Mental Health for Central Michigan (CMHCM) in Big Rapids, which provides services to residents in Mecosta and Osceola counties.

“Research has shown that talking about suicide does not cause someone to be suicidal,” she said. “Talking to someone about if they are feeling suicidal is the first step towards being able to help them. As a result, there has been an increase in prevention, training and anti-stigma efforts in communities pertaining to mental illness and suicide.”

Beagle added the tools used by health professionals have improved over the years.

“Hospitals, primary care physician offices and jails are conducting suicide screenings to identify individuals who may be at risk for suicide, resulting in referrals for appropriate services,” she said. “There also has been increased awareness supported by research, that harm reduction such as reducing access to lethal means — gun, pills, etc.— for an individual to harm themselves can prevent/reduce suicide attempts.”

Beagle also highlighted CMHCM crisis protocol requires professionals to conduct wellness checks following a crisis contact for individuals at risk of suicide.

“Research indicates follow-up for individuals who are suicidal can be more impactful for the individual than contact the day of the crisis,” she said.

Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.

For those who are suicidal or affected by suicide, Beagle said CMHCM provides an array of services.

“CMHCM offers crisis services to the community 24/7,” she said. “Individuals can access these services by walking into our offices between 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. or calling (231) 796-5825 in Mecosta County or (231) 832-2247 in Osceola County.

“After office hours, our phones are forwarded to a crisis line where someone will be available to speak with the individual or a Crisis Mobilization Intervention Team member can meet with them.”

Other services include outpatient therapy (individual, family, group), home-based therapy for children and families, case management, assertive community treatment, peer support, parent support partner and psychiatric, Beagle said.

“CMHCM coordinates the Mecosta Osceola Crisis Response Team (MOCRT) which provides critical stress management services to community members of Mecosta/Osceola counties,” she said. “The purpose of the MOCRT is to accelerate the recovery of individuals in the community who are having normal reactions to critical incidents which includes suicide.”

For a full list of CMHCM services, visit its Facebook page or cmhcm.org.

avatar

Posted by Brandon Fountain

Leave a Reply