The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received a $440,000 dollar grant award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to be distributed over three years for suicide prevention. According to IDPH, 381 Iowans committed suicide in 2012, making it the tenth leading cause of death in the state. The grant will be used to implement evidence-based screening and assessment for suicide risk at IDPH-funded substance abuse treatment programs and certain public middle and high schools; to reach youth through a social media campaign; and to increase referrals to services for substance use and co-occurring mental health problems.
IDPH will coordinate the grant with the Your Life Iowa program announced by Governor Branstad last November as a “go-to” resource for youth, parents, school personnel and all Iowans looking for help and information about bullying and youth suicide prevention. Available 24/7, Your Life Iowa is a phone call or text away at www.Yourlifeiowa.org or 855-581-8111. Trained counselors provide guidance and support about bullying, and critical help to youth who feel they’ve run out of options and are considering suicide. Since its launch, most callers and texters to Your Life Iowa have been female. Most callers who said they were bullying victims were between the ages of 9 and 12; the highest number of texts regarding bullying was from teens aged 13 to 16. The majority reported their bullying incidents occurred at school.
Most people who consider suicide want to live, but are unable to see alternatives to their problems and they often give warning signs such as:
- Threatening or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
- Talking or writing about death, dying and suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for that person
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
- Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
- Anxiety, agitation, inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Dramatic mood changes
There are ways to be helpful to someone who is threatening suicide:
- Be direct. Talk openly and factually about suicide
- Listen. Allow expression of feelings and accept the feelings you hear
- Don’t judge, debate or lecture
- Get involved, be available, and show interest and support
- Don’t dare him or her to do it
- Don’t act shocked. This could create distance between you
- Offer hope that alternatives are available, but don’t give glib reassurance
- Take action! Remove guns, pills or other means
If urgent, call your health care provider, 911, Your Life Iowa (855-581-8111) or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-TALK), or go to the emergency room.
For more information and resources about suicide prevention, visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or www.idph.state.ia.us/bh/suicide_prevention.asp.