The Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention (NCSP) celebrated it’s sixth annual Walk of Hope to bring suicide prevention to citizens of Nevada on Sept, 15. The event was held state wide and this year Mesquite joined in the cause.
The Mesquite Behavioral Health Center joined forces with the Nevada Coalition to enlighten Mesquite residents on the prevention of suicide in Nevada.
The NCSP offers healing support to survivors of suicide loss and raises money for communities to support prevention efforts. In 2011 the Walk of Hope had reached eight communities throughout the state and had the support of 1,100 walkers.
“This will be the first in what will hopefully become an annual event in Mesquite”, said Pam Bruehl, mental health technician and event organizer. “Money from the event will go to the Nevada Coalition but 90 percent of the money raised can come right back to our community, and that’s important to me.”
The walkers gathered at the Mesquite Recreation Center, 100 W. Old Mill Road on Saturday, Sept. 15. Registration for the walk opened at 8 a.m. and the 50 walkers began their trek at 9 a.m. in the west field.
Bruehl has worked for Mesquite Behavioral Health Center for 14 years, many of those years Bruehl served as the office manager and recently as a mental health tech.
While Bruehl admits that she doesn’t know anyone who has ever committed or attempted suicide personally, she still thinks the Walk of Hope is for a very good cause and is willing to implement, organize and act as liaison between the Nevada Coalition and the Mesquite Behavioral Health Center.
According to the NCSP, “Nearly everyone, at some time in his or her life, thinks about suicide. Almost everyone decides to live because they come to realize that the crisis is temporary, but death is not.”
This was the case for Jamie Crandall who suffered several deaths in her family in a very short time. The pain was too much for Crandall to handle and she took an excessive amount of Lortab, a narcotic pain-reliever which combines Hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Crandall took the medication and went for a drive, ended up in a parking lot drinking on top of the pills. But Crandall had second thoughts and called 911.
“When I was in the hospital under the 7- hour watch I came to the realization that I couldn’t let my mom go through this because of me,” Crandall said. “My mom’s father died just a few days before and I just couldn’t let my mom suffer the loss of two people in under a week.”
This was also the case for Christine Porter who thought that she needed to end her life after her three children were taken into custody by Child Protective Services in 1999. Porter thought she had nothing left to live for and swallowed a bottle of aspirin. Porter said, “I took the bottle of aspirin; I had nothing to live for. I fell asleep and something jerked me awake. It was then that I realized that I couldn’t leave my kids without a mother and decided I wanted to live.” Porter shares a close relationship with her children today because of her decision and says, “Suicide is a chicken way out and it’s not worth it, there’s so much to live for and the rough times aren’t permanent, but death is.”
On the other hand, people in the midst of a crisis often perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control, according to the NCSP. This, unfortunately, is the feeling that most who attempt suicide feel and for those that succeed there is no turning back, there is only the aftermath and suffering of those who loved you.
Kimberly Anne Linares, was in the military and unable to handle the pressures when she took her life on June 8, 2011. Linares left behind her two children, her parents, brothers and sisters and her best friend, Rebecca Lauzau. Lauzau says, “We saw the signs, she began cutting on herself and taking pills. We got her into mental health but one day she decided she’d had enough and took her own life. I’m here walking for her today and she is sorely missed.”
Suicide in the state is a huge issue. Sen. Harry Reid sent a letter to those that joined the walk to encourage them to take a stand and raise awareness. In the letter Reid said, “Nevada has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. Suicide can devastate families and whole communities. It touched my life in 1972 when I received the shocking news that my father had taken his own life. It took many years for me and my family to reach a point where we felt willing to talk openly about his suicide. Only through sharing our experiences and meeting others who have experienced the same devastating loss can we heal and strengthen our resolve to ensure others never have to experience this in their lives.”
Gov. Brian Sandoval stated that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15-24. Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death in the state of Nevada. This and other statistics provided to Sandoval and because suicide is 100 percent preventable, the governor proclaimed Sept. 9-15, 2012 as Suicide Prevention Week in the state of Nevada.
The Walk of Hope brought together 50 people from as far away as Boulder City who have this same resolve; to raise awareness and ensure that others never have to experience this same devastating loss.
The NCSP provides guidelines. Signs to look for in someone you may suspect of contemplating suicide are:
Threatening to or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself, seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means, talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person, acting reckless or engaging in risky activities — seemingly without thinking.
Other signs may include: Increasing alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends, family, and society.
Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time and dramatic mood changes.
Behavioral specialists say, “Suicide is 100 percent preventable if you know the signs and take action.”
What can you do to help prevent someone you know from committing suicide? NCSP says be aware, learn the warning signs and get involved. Become available to that person, show interest and support. Be direct, talk openly and freely and be willing to listen. Accept the feelings and don’t be judgmental. Don’t debate about whether suicide is right or wrong and don’t lecture on the value of life. Behavioral Specialists say that certain actions such as asking why and acting shocked may encourage defensiveness and create distance.
The experts encourage people who know someone showing these signs not to be sworn to secrecy but to take action, remove means and get help from individuals or agencies specializing in intervention and prevention.
The NCSP has developed a mnemonic device that can help anyone remember the basic signs;
IS PATH WARM which stands for: Ideation, Substance abuse, Purposelessness, Anxiety, Trapped, Hopelessness, Withdrawal, Anger, Recklessness and Mood change.
For more information on Suicide Prevention, who may be at risk and what you can do to help prevent suicide contact your local Mesquite Behavioral Health Center, 702-346-4696, The Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention at http://www.nvsuicideprevention.org.
The NCSP also offers a list of support groups for those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Meetings are kept confidential with the exception of those who threaten or display homicidal, suicidal or violent tendencies toward others in the group. The confidentiality will be broken to protect other group members and the person displaying these behaviors.