Are you planning to visit the Farm Science Review next week?
If you are- stop by the McCormick Building and say “hi” to the Farm Stress team. We’ll have a few activities you can enjoy, some resources to share, or you can just stop in and chat for a few minutes. We love hearing your stories and finding ways we can support your mental health and wellbeing.
Our team of volunteers is looking forwarding to meeting you next week. Look for our signs at the McCormick Building and come in to see us!
This is the third in a series of posts for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. You can read part 2 of the series here.
When I was a little kid, I was obsessed with videos about severe storms. I listened carefully as people shared their stories about what they saw and heard in the moments before a storm hit. A few people were caught unaware, but most people recounted that they saw dark clouds on the horizon, noticed that the winds picked up or died down quickly, or even saw animals acting differently than usual. As these were the days before I could view weather radar on demand, I kept these signs in mind as I played and worked outside, ready to take action at a moment’s notice.
In a similar way, knowing the warning signs of suicide can help us be better prepared to help a friend or family member if the need arises. There are some very evident signs:
- talking about death or dying
- expressing that they have no hope for the future or feel helpless
- making plans to die or researching ways to die
There are some more subtle signs that a person is considering suicide or at risk:
- changes in behavior, such as sleeping much more or less than usual
- withdrawing from everyday life activities, including spending time with friends or family
- engaging in risky behaviors, such as excessive drugs/alcohol use, driving too fast, or getting in fights
Then there are signs we might not immediately recognize:
- giving away prized possessions
- an extreme change in mood, going from down or depressed to seemingly happy or at peace
Being aware of warning signs of suicide increases the likelihood that you will be able to notice if something is changing with a friend or family member and that you will be able to take appropriate action to help. If you notice any of these signs in a friend or family member, don’t be afraid to start a discussion about what you’ve noticed. You are not putting an idea in their head by asking a question. In fact, you may be offering them a chance to share their feelings and express a need for help.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, dial 911 and request immediate help. You can also call or text 988 and speak to a trained professional about your concerns. They will be able to provide assistance and connect you with appropriate resources.
Starting some conversations is easy: “How’s the farm?” “Did you see the game last week?” “Can you believe the weather?!” They’re simple questions, pleasantries really, that start conversations about things most of us are experiencing together.
But how do you start an uncomfortable conversation? How do you tell a friend or family member that you’re concerned about their wellbeing? This is the second in a series of posts for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and today we’ll discuss some of the ways we can start conversations about mental health.
- Consider your approach. Choose a place and time where the person won’t feel like they’re being ambushed or put on the spot.
- Use “I” statements. Let the person know what why you’re bringing up this subject by saying things like, “I’ve noticed that…” or “I’m concerned about…” This can make the person feel less likely to feel defensive, and more likely to want to address your concerns.
- Listen. Now is not the time to dole out advice or pass judgment. Ask questions when appropriate, but simply let the person talk. Pauses in the conversation can be helpful as well, as they may give you or the other person time to collect your thoughts before responding.
What comes after the conversation? There are different ways a conversation can play out, and it’s helpful to think about possible next steps.
- Your friend is okay right now. Sometimes people go through rough patches, and while they’re tough to navigate, people can bounce back with a little time and support. If this is the case, maybe offer some help (a meal, run their kids to practice, etc) and give yourself a reminder to check in again in a few days or weeks.
- They want help now. Maybe they have been struggling and are grateful for help. In crisis situations, calling 911 (for suicide emergencies) or 988 (for suicidal thoughts or other mental health concerns) is appropriate for immediate help. In non-crisis situations, you can also contact 211, check out the Ohio Mental Health Resource Guide, or the Farm Stress Certified directory for other contacts.
- They don’t want your help. Not everyone is ready to accept help or recognize that they need support. Let the person know that you’re there to support them now or in the future, and keep the lines of communication open. You never know when someone might need you down the road!
Starting certain conversations can be difficult, but it’s worth feeling the discomfort if it means reaching out to someone who may need your help!
September means a lot of things: schools are in session, football season is getting underway, fairs are wrapping up, and harvest is just around the corner. Since 2008, September has also been a time to reflect on mental health and spend time building awareness of suicide prevention. This is the first in a four-part series on the topic of suicide prevention. In today’s post, we’ll look at the statistics that surround suicide in rural areas and the agriculture community.
According to the CDC, the rate of suicide has increased 46% in rural areas as compared to 27.3% in urban or suburban areas. Imagine a room of 100 people (think of a crowded local restaurant on a Friday night, or a small church on Sunday morning), then imagine adding 46 more people to that room. That visual represents the increase in the rate of suicide in our rural and ag communities. This can be a shocking fact to some people, because there’s a lot of stigma that keeps us from talking about this subject and sharing facts.
There are a lot of reasons this number is going up. Part of it may be that reporting guidelines have changed, and we’re simply seeing a clearer picture of what is happening in our communities. At the same time, it’s more likely that stressors such as economic uncertainty, cultural pressures, and lack of preventative care have contributed to these increased rates.
Suicide is an uncomfortable topic, but having a true picture of the magnitude of the problem is the first step in addressing the issue and helping friends, family, and neighbors who may be considering suicide. Throughout the rest of the month, we’ll look at ways we can build our awareness and share resources with others if needed.
If you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide, call 911 immediately. You can also reach the Suicide and Crisis Prevention lifeline by dialing or texting 988, and a trained professional will help you through the crisis and connect you with resources and other support.