28% of suicide victims suffer from a substance abuse problem. Evergreen Recovery and National Suicide Prevention Week want to spread awareness and help at-risk people find support.
National Suicide Prevention Week is taking place September 8-15, 2019. World Suicide Prevention Day takes place on September 10th.
At Evergreen Recovery, suicide is an issue that hits close to home. After all, it’s a common problem among addicts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 28% of suicide victims show signs of substance abuse disorder.
As an organization that aims to help people overcome addiction, this is troubling. We know that it’s possible to get sober and move on to a happier, healthier life. We’ve seen it happen many times over.
That’s why we’re promoting National Suicide Prevention Week.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the Suicide Prevention events happening in our local area. We’ll discuss some events in Seattle, Bellevue, and other surrounding cities. We’ll also offer important info about suicide, addiction, and finding help for suicidal loved ones.
Hopefully, we can help you and your family find the support you need.
Suicide at a Glance: Facts and Statistics
Here are some numbers that illustrate the scope of the problem:
About National Suicide Prevention Week
National Suicide Prevention Week occurs each year in September. Created by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, this week aims to spread awareness about the country’s growing epidemic.
The Lifeline, along with other mental health organizations, holds events to promote resources for at-risk individuals. These events take place all across America. There are Suicide Prevention Events in Seattle, New York, and every other city in-between.
As the Lifeline writes on their website, “[We’re] working to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, to actions that can promote healing, help, and give hope.”
By connecting people with supportive resources, the Lifeline aims to show people that suicide isn’t the answer. There are plenty of people out there who want to help.
Suicide Prevention Week Events in Seattle and Bellevue
Here are a few events happening in our neighborhood:
World Suicide Prevention Conference
Date: September 10, 2019
Time: 8:00 AM-4:30 PM
Location: University of Washington, Kane Hall
This conference aims to teach practical, evidence-based strategies for preventing suicide. Hosted by three esteemed professionals, the event will feature a range of workshops and discussions.
These discussions include:
- Safety Planning Intervention Unpacked (It’s More than Filling out a Form!)
- What if it’s that Simple? Non-Demanding Caring Contacts for Suicide Prevention
- Advanced LEARN® SAVES LIVES for School Mental Health Professionals
Lunch is provided. Registration opens at 8:00 AM, so be sure to show up on time if you want a spot!
Check out this link for more info: World Suicide Prevention Conference
2019 Mental Health Summit
Date: September 20, 2019
Time: 8:00 AM-4:00 PM
Location: South Seattle College, Gene J. Colin Hall, 6737 Corson Ave South
Each year, behavioral healthcare professionals gather to discuss best practices for treating veterans. At this meeting, you’ll share resources with your colleagues and talk about a wide range of related issues.
This is an all-day conference with several breakout sessions to choose from. It’s free to attend, but you must register ahead of time.
For more info, follow this link: 2019 VA Mental Health Summit
Out of the Darkness Seattle Walk
Date: October 20, 2019
Time: Registration/Check-in @8:30 AM, Walk @10:00-11:00 AM
Location: Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion
Unfortunately, scheduling issues pushed the annual Out of the Darkness Seattle Walk back a few weeks.
But that’s okay! You can continue to support suicide awareness even after the dedicated week has passed!
This event, taking place on October 20th, aims to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevent. By walking alongside other supports, you’ll raise funds for research, education, and advocacy around suicide. Together, you’ll work to bring heightened awareness to America’s epidemic!
Want to join? Register for the Walk on the AFSP website.
Suicide Prevention Week Events in Other Washington Cities
Here are some events taking place in various communities around Washington State:
National Weekend of Prayer for Faith, Hope, & Life
Date: September 6-8, 2019
Time: Varies based on venue
Between September 6th and 8th, religious communities around Washington will devote their weekends to praying for the people who’ve been affected by suicide. They’ll come together as communities to pray for the victims, their families, and their friends.
This event is conducted by the National Action Alliance and is open to any faith-based organization that wants to participate.
Interested in joining your community for prayer? Ask your church, mosque, synagogue, or place of worship where you can participate!
Out of the Darkness Spokane Walk
Date: September 7, 2019
Time: Registration/Check-in @8:30 AM, Walk @10:30-11:30 AM
Location: Pavilion Park Liberty Lake, Spokane, WA
This hour-long walk aims to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. All donations are put toward research, educational programs, advocacy, and survivor support.
So far, they’ve raised almost $40,000 of their $55,000 goal!
You can register to walk on the AFSP website, or in-person between 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM.
Yoga in the Park
Date: September 10, 2019
Time: 4 PM-5:30 PM
Location: Reaney Park, 690 Reaney Way., Pullman, WA
Life gets stressful. What better way to relax than with some outdoor yoga?
The Palouse Advocacy League invites you to join them for a yoga session in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day. Bring your own yoga mat, or feel free to borrow one.
In case of rain, the event will take place at Yogatopia (246 E. Main St.) in Pullman. It’s free and open to all. No registration required.
Zero Suicide Community Roundtable
Date: September 27, 2019
Time: 8:30 AM-11:00 AM
Location: Whitman College, Young Ballroom, Walla Walla, WA
This roundtable aims to educate students and community members about suicide prevention techniques. It will feature Dr. Justin Coffey, a neuropsychiatrist who specializes in psychiatry, psychology, and addiction medicine.
Want to learn more about suicide, addiction, and the brain? You can learn more about this event here: Zero Suicide Community Roundtable.
Washington State DoH Online Events
The Washington State Department of Health plays a key role in local Suicide Prevention Week events. They hold webinars, forums, and a number of other online events.
Can’t make it out to one of the in-person events in your area? Check out one of these online discussions through the Department of Health:
#BeThere Twitter Chat
Date: September 9, 2019
Time: 2:00 PM ET
The Action Alliance and their partners will kick off National Suicide Prevention Week with this hashtag-based Twitter conversation.
Want to join in and spread awareness? Just follow @Action_Alliance on Twitter post your message followed by #BeThere!
As the organization says, “We will discuss ways. The public can play a role in suicide prevention through the simple act of being there for the people in their lives.” So if you want to connect with others who feel passionately about the cause, be sure to participate!
Suicide and Addiction: Why This is Matters to Us (And You)
Addiction goes hand in hand with the types of mental health conditions that lead to suicide. In fact, experts point out that roughly 22% of suicide victims are intoxicated when they die.
Those who struggle with substance abuse are far more likely to have suicidal ideations. In other words, by treating addiction, we may be able to significantly decrease the suicide rate.
There is a strong connection between addiction and suicide, and It’s important to keep this in mind throughout Suicide Prevention Week. If we can help drug addicts and alcoholics find proper treatment, we may be able to prevent future deaths.
Can Mental Illness Lead to Addiction?
In many cases, addicts turn to substance abuse as a way to self-medicate. For example, a person who struggles with depression might find that cocaine or heroin helps them cope with their pain. Or, someone with a social anxiety disorder might use alcohol to feel more comfortable around people.
While mental illness doesn’t always lead to addiction, it happens a lot. Therefore, it’s important for people who struggle with conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or bipolar disorder to keep an eye on their drug habits. Even those who take prescription medication can develop an addiction by misusing their meds.
Can Addiction Lead to Mental Illness?
Many people actually develop a mental illness through drug abuse.
It’s common for chronic drinkers to develop depression disorder, even if they aren’t genetically prone to it. Because alcohol is a depressant drug, it can create a chemical imbalance in the brain, turning depression into the brain’s default setting. This also occurs in people who abuse sedatives like Xanax or fentanyl.
Other drugs are known to cause psychosis. Cocaine, crystal meth, and even marijuana are all closely linked to schizophrenia. These drugs stimulate brain activity, which can lead to paranoia and delusions. Over time, these delusions can evolve into schizophrenic episodes, and eventually to self-harm or suicide.
Suicide Prevention Tips: How Do You Know if Someone is Suicidal?
Worried that you or a loved one might be at-risk of suicide? Here are a few warning signs to look for:
It’s common for suicidal people to talk about hurting or killing themselves beforehand. Therefore, it’s important to keep your ears open when talking to friends and family. If a person mentions feeling trapped, being a burden to others, or having no reason to live, they could be at-risk.
You should pay particularly close attention if the person has recently gone through a significant life change. For example, they may have lost a job, gone through a break-up, or suffered a traumatic injury. If they mention that they feel hopeless about their life, you might want to help them find professional support.
Some of the most significant warning signs occur in the individual’s behavior. They may start to act in a different way than they used to.
For example, the person might slowly (or quickly) begin to withdraw from social life. The activities they used to enjoy may not bring them happiness anymore. They might take measures to isolate themselves from family or friends.
In more severe instances, the individual may give away their most prized possessions, or call friends and family to say goodbye. In these cases, it’s crucial to help them find support immediately.
Another key sign to look out for is an increase in drug and alcohol consumption. Heavy drinking and drug use occur when a person is trying to self-medicate. They seek these substances out because they want to feel better. As someone who loves them, you should work to find care for them ASAP.
Clinical depression puts someone at a higher risk of suicide than non-depressed people. However, depressed people don’t always appear sad from the outside.
Oftentimes, depression takes the form of drastic mood swings. The individual might be elated and happy one day, but unable to get out of bed the next. Suicidal people are sometimes irritable, anxious, or even angry.
Ultimately, you should keep a close eye on how their mood changes over time. If their moods are too erratic to predict, it could be a sign that they’re at risk of taking drastic action.
How to Help a Suicidal Friend or Family Member?
What do you do if you’re worried about a loved one hurting themselves? How are you supposed to help?
Many people ask themselves these questions.
Below, we’ve outlined a step-by-step guide to help.
If you want to help a suicidal person, you must first open up to them about your concerns. Ask them questions, like:
- How are you handling the stress in your life?
- Do you ever hurt yourself?
- Do you ever think about giving up?
- How often do you think about dying?
- Would you ever commit suicide?
- If so, do you think about where, when, and how you’d do it?
- Do you own anything that you could use to hurt yourself?
These questions might seem strange. However, some people are just waiting for someone to bring up the topic. Raising these questions will demonstrate that you love the person and you’re concerned about their wellbeing.
You should never approach the conversation in a confrontational way. Be direct, but sensitive. The goal is to show the person that you love them, not to make them feel attacked.
If you determine that the individual is suicidal, help them find support. Talking to them one-on-one is helpful, but you should also encourage them to reach out to a professional.
For example, you should refer them to a suicide hotline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). That way, they’ll have someone to talk to if you aren’t available.
You should also refer them to a local hospital or treatment center. If they struggle with drug addiction or alcoholism, you should encourage them to check into a medical detox program.
Ultimately, you should assure them that things can get better. Make yourself available to talk, and be open and responsive to their feelings. No matter what, don’t make them feel judged. They need you now more than ever.
Seek Immediate Help
If the individual is threatening suicide and refuses to seek help, or if they’ve already attempted it, call 911 immediately.
Do not leave them alone. Remove all weapons (and potential weapons) from the environment.
It’s never easy to deter someone from attempting suicide, but it’s vital to take immediate action when they’re at risk of doing so. A few simple steps can drastically improve your chances of saving their life.
Evergreen Recovery: There’s Still Hope
If drugs or alcohol are taking a toll on your mental health, we want to help. Our staff of addiction specialists and medical professionals can provide the support you need.
Northpoint the Evergreen drug and alcohol detox and rehab services for addicts who want to turn their lives around.
If you’re seeking help for a friend or family member, we want to assist you. One of our specialists may be able to assist you in an intervention to get them into treatment.
Whatever your needs, call us today. Getting yourself or a loved one into treatment could make the difference between life and death.