September is National Suicide Prevention Month, as well as in Crookston

    Note to readers: September is National Suicide Prevention Month. This week, Crookston Mayor Wayne Melbye proclaimed September Suicide Prevention Month in Crookston. Shauna Reitmeier and Janet Wall Denision of the Northwestern Mental Health Center in Crookston have authored the following article in conjunction with the month and the NWMHC’s initiative.
    September is National Suicide Prevention Month. It is a time when mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. Everyone can play a role in suicide prevention. 

    We are all part of the solution when we know the signs, find the words and reach out. Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, mental health illnesses affect 1 in 5 adults where 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. This month is an opportunity for everyone to learn the warning signs for suicide, find the words to express concerns to those we care about, connect with our friends, family and co-workers, and learn about local resources that are available to offer support.

Statistics about suicide
    • According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
    • Each year, almost 50,000 people die by suicide (on average which is 123 suicides per day).
    • Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women.
    • White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.
    • Firearms account for 51% of all suicides in 2016.
    • The rate of suicide is highest in middle age — white men in particular.

Know the signs
    All diseases have symptoms and treatment. Symptoms of a Cold Virus (disease) may include runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, body aches, cough, headache and fever. Symptoms of the disease of type 1 Diabetes might include dry mouth, frequent urination, being overly-tired, nausea, weird smelling breath and sudden weight loss.

    Most people that die by suicide suffer from the disease of Major Depressive Disorder. Symptoms of this disease can include:

    • Talking about wanting to die and thoughts of killing self.
    • Withdrawal and Isolation- this can be a serious symptom because isolation is the most fertile ground for depression to spread and grow within the depressed mind.
    • Changes in Sleep pattern (wanting to sleep too much or not being able to get to sleep or stay sleep).
    • Reckless behaviors.
    • Excessive anger and feeling easily irritated.
    • Neglect of personal appearance.
    • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
    • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
    • Loss of Interest in things/activities that were previously enjoyable.
    • Sudden mood changes.
    • Slow speech.
    • Giving away belongings.
    • Talking about being a burden to others.
    • Increased use of alcohol or other drugs.

    As with other diseases, treatment is available and effective. When a person has a Cold Virus (disease), treatment can include cold remedies, lots of rest and liquids,  and seeing a doctor if symptoms persist. Treatment of the disease of Type 1 Diabetes may include taking insulin, frequent blood sugar monitoring, eating healthy food, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight.

    Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder and other diseases that can result in suicidal thoughts and actions can include: creating a safety plan, talk therapy, medication management, exercise, mindfulness and following a healthy diet.

    Find the words and reach out - Depression is very isolating and can be a solitary disease. Statements that are common to a person suffering with Major Depressive Disorder include, “It is too hard. I am different than everyone else (People are unique, but the disease of depression has many commonalities). I will never get better. Treatment won’t work for me. I am going crazy. I am crazy.”

    Depressed, unexamined thoughts need to be discussed so that hope and reality can be infused into the current situation.

Community Coalition
    With suicide being a symptom of such a serious disease, and the impact death by suicide has within a community, concerned community members joined together to form a coalition to provide outreach and education along with resources about suicide awareness and prevention within the City of Crookston.  The Coalition members includes family members, civic organizations, healthcare, behavioral health, public health, law enforcement, education, advocates, allies and anyone else is welcomed.  With support from the MN Department of Health, the Coalition will be working on gaining knowledge about the perception of suicide within the City of Crookston.  The results of this information gathered will inform the Coalition on what steps to take next that will be accepted within the community.  

Upcoming events
    To kick off this important awareness campaign the following events are occurring:

    • City of Crookston Mayor Melbye issued a Proclamation of September to be Suicide Prevention Month
    • Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Awareness Training, September 19, 6 p.m. at City Hall
    • Event for the public, all welcome: “Not Alone Documentary” on Oct. 11 at UMC’s Kiehle Auditorium at 7 p.m. It’s a free event, but a free will offering will be accepted.  

    “Not Alone” has been endorsed  by the American Association of Suicidology and Thomas Niederkrotenthaler and the Wiener Werkstattle for Suicide Research., an international, interuniversity as well as interdisciplinary, consortium of researchers devoted to fostering research collaboration and progress in suicidology.

Area resources
    • Crisis Text Line is a text-based crisis line available 24/7. Text MN to 741741.
    • Northwestern Mental Health Center Crisis Line: Mental Health Crisis Line - (800) 282-5005 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
    Online resources:
    • American Foundation for Suicide Awareness-
    • NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness-
    Shauna Reitmeier, MSW, LGSW, is the Current Leader/CEO of the Northwestern Mental Health Center and a member of the Suicide Prevention Coalition, Crookston Lions and on the Board of the Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Programs.  
    Janet Wall Denison, LICSW, LADC, is the Chief Clinical Director at the Northwestern Mental Health Center. In her tenure there, she has had the opportunity to treat many survivors of Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorders, Bi-Polar Disorder and other diseases that can be debilitating or fatal if left untreated.