October 20, 2014

Suicide prevention program scheduled for Dec. 4 at Pinconning Library

By Jeff Patrus|Staff Writer
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PINCONNING — The Pinconning Library is slated to host a program in December designed to educate people about what may cause others to think about suicide, as well as intervention methods to deal with the situation.

Barb Smith, coordinator of the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program of Bay County, as well as the facilitator of the local Survivors of Suicide Support Group, is scheduled to present the program “Youth Suicide Prevention and Intervention: A Training for Suicide Providers.” The program is scheduled to take place between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 in the Pinconning Branch Library’s Community Room.

Kim Martini, prevention coordinator for Bay Arenac Behavioral Health, said the group is geared toward the following groups: service providers at helping agencies in Northern Bay and Arenac Counties, school staff, and anyone who works with adults and/or youth. She also said attendees of the program will learn about the following topics: prevalence of suicide, what causes suicide, risk factors and warning signs, signs and symptoms, and how to help.

Smith said while suicide rates themselves are no different around the holidays than at any other time, depression issues can be magnified during this time of the year. “It can be loneliness, and for the elderly it can be a reminder of their youth,” she said. “It can be a time of turmoil, where families go through challenging times. Family gatherings can be more painful. Job losses and financial burdens are also a factor, and can involve a sense of failure.”

She also said a feeling of hopelessness can be prevalent during the holiday season, and listed some warning signs among those who are thinking about suicide, such as changes in their interactions with family members and verbalizing their intentions (in other words, stating that this will be the last holiday they spend with their family). Smith said about 80 percent of those who end up taking their own lives talking about taking that action before they actually do so.

In order to deal with that situation, Smith said family members should make sure everyone is included during family gatherings, and if someone is not interested in joining, then others should try to find out what the real reason is for that person not wanting to join that event.

As far as school-aged children are concerned, Smith said another warning sign is students acting out in the classroom.

“School counselors will notice that,” she said. “So many kids don’t want to go home for Christmas.”

Keeping close family ties and not being as preoccupied with gift-giving are important ways to help out those who may be feeling depressed during this time of the year, Smith said. “We have to be more vigilant with our own families and invite those who have nowhere to go,” she said. “We have to find the small joys in life and find people that bring us joy.”

Smith said those people who are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts should call 1-800-273-TALK (3255) or the local crisis number, 1-800-327-4693.

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