Knowing signs of suicidal thoughts useful

September 29, 2017 | By Tanya Bañuelos

Suicide rates in both Idaho and Oregon are among the highest in the country, as participants learned in a mental health training hosted on Thursday.

In Payette County, between 2011 to 2015, 19 deaths were ruled as suicide. In Malheur County, beginning in 2012 and to date, 33 deaths have been ruled suicide, according to public vital statistics records for both states.

As September is deemed Suicide Prevention Month, organizations and mental health advocates across the nation have stepped up to promote awareness of one the leading causes of death, including Lifeways, a local nonprofit focusing on all aspects of mental health.

Any suicide rate is too high, Lifeways counselor Judi Trask, said to attendees of the Youth Mental Health First Aid training hosted at St. Luke’s Fruitland.

Throughout the training, presenters focused on numerous topics, including suicide, where they learned warning signs as well as strategies on how to help someone.

Watch for the signs

Some of those warning signs, as demonstrated during the training, include changes in behavior, moods and language.

Participants learned that if a youth talks about hurting or killing themselves, as well as talking or writing about death, dying or suicide in school work, creative writing or artwork, then that is one warning sign.

Other signs also involved expressing signs of hopelessness or feeling trapped.

Additional commons signs include an increased use of alcohol or drugs, acting recklessly, withdrawing from activities, isolation, sleeping too much or too little, giving away prize possessions or aggression.

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods: depression, loss of interest, rage, irritability, humiliation and anxiety, according to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

Another sign, Lindsey Atagi, Lifeways prevention coordinator, said, may be that the person is happy.

“If you have a loved one that has been struggling for so long and they’re finally happy; gosh, that’s a sense of relief, and you might not know that it’s a sign that they are ready to end their life because you are just so grateful that they have a smile on their face,” Atagi said.

Highlighting the signs – and especially that sign – Atagi added, is the importance of the training.

“That’s exactly what happened with Chester Bennington— the lead singer for Linkin Park,” Atagi said as she mentioned the video clip Bennington’s wife shared on social media of the man smiling with his family the night before he killed himself.

Ask the question

Perhaps one of the greater messages of suicide prevention during the training and with national campaigns such as that of Suicide Prevention Lifeline, is to ask the question. During the training, attendees practiced just that.

After the exercise, Trask asked the crowd about their experience.

“I would have never thought to just ask blatantly,” one participant said.

“Rarely, in my experience, when I have asked that question, the answer is no,” said another participant of her real-life experience.

What people do with the information is equally important,

Trask said.

Participants learned in the training to seek professional help for the person.