MASON CITY, IA ñ SEPT. 9, 2011 The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) urges all Iowans to become better informed and spread the word about World Suicide Prevention Day, which is September 10. According to IDPH data, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Iowans ages 15 to 34. Cerro Gordo County ranks in the top fifth of the state for suicide deaths according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. In 2010, 369 Iowans died by suicide; it is estimated that for every suicide death, there are an additional 25 suicide attempts.
Among Iowa students, 14 percent of 11th graders reported they had seriously considered attempting suicide during the past 12 months; 5 percent reported that they had actually attempted suicide one or more times.
“Take 5 to Save Lives” is the theme of the 2010 World Suicide Prevention Day. Iowans are encouraged to 1) learn the warning signs of suicide; 2) join the movement to save lives by using social media status updates and tweets; 3) spread the word about suicide prevention; 4) support a friend who is struggling; and 5) reach out for help if you are concerned about your own thoughts or feelings.
Signs of suicidal behavior include:
ï Thinking, talking or wishing about suicide
ï Making statements about feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless
ï Feeling that one has no sense of purpose or belonging; believing there is nothing to live for
ï Doing reckless or risky behaviors, such as driving at high speeds
ï Preoccupation with death
ï Increased use or change in use of substances, such as alcohol or drugs.
ï Withdrawing from family, friends, work, school, activities, hobbies
ï Suddenly feeling happier, calmer, after a period of depression or hopelessness
ï Making “final” arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order
ï Giving things away, such as prized possessions
United Way of North Central Iowa’s suicide prevention efforts include:
ï TeenScreen Schools & Communities is a national mental health and suicide screening program for young people. TeenScreen is committed to making the mental health and well-being of America’s youth a national priority and to ensuring that every parent is offered the opportunity to have their teenager receive a voluntary mental health checkup.
o United Way funded program, TeenScreen, began in north Iowa in 2006. Since the beginning 1,773 students have been screened and 266 were flagged positive for suicide ideation. Those 266 students were referred to a mental health professional for further treatment.
o 14 schools are participating in TeenScreen in the 2011-2012 school year: Central Springs HS, Charles City HS, Clear Lake HS, Forest City HS, Garner HS, Lake Mills HS, Mason City HS, New Hampton HS, New Hampton MS, Newman Catholic HS, Northwood/Kensett HS, Osage HS, Ventura HS, and Westfork HS.
o For more information regarding TeenScreen; please contact Andrea Mujica, at United Way of North Central Iowa ñ Phone 641-423-1774 or email email@example.com.
ï Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group The support groups meet in both Mason City and Charles City on a monthly basis. When someone has lost a loved one to suicide, they become the survivor ñ many survivors find support groups to be an effective and therapeutic coping mechanism.
ï The Out of the Darkness Community Walk takes place the 2nd Saturday in October, beginning at the Southbridge Mall in Mason City. The purpose of the walk is to honor a loved one, support the cause, and raise awareness about mental illness. The funds raised by this walk benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
ï National Survivors of Suicide Day local conference will be held on November 19 in Mason City. The conference will take place at the Mercy Medical Center ñ North Iowa, East Campus Auditorium ñ time TBD.
ï United Way of North Central Iowa also operates a Survivors of Suicide Loss Lending Library of DVD’s, Literature, Periodicals, and other resources. It can be found at the United Way office in Mason City, 600 1st Street NW, Suite 102, and is open to the public.
For more information about suicide prevention, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/bh/suicide_prevention.asp. For information about the Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group in Mason City, Out of the Darkness Community Walk, or National Survivors of Suicide Day please visit www.unitedwaynci.org/survivors_of_suicide_loss, call Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Wendy Balles at 641-420-0049 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 1-800-273-TALK, or 1-800-273-8255, or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.