Bringing suicide awareness to a local level

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Working together to make Cassville a safer place for its residents

Across the nation in 2019, suicide claimed the lives of 47,000 people, and in the months of 2020 while the world has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, suicide is a higher risk due to the isolation caused from quarantine.

According to Katherine Setzer, program director at Senior Life Solutions with Mercy Hospital, older adults make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, however, they account for 18 percent of all suicide deaths.

Setzer has set out to help bring suicide awareness and prevention the Cassville area.

“In my job, I work in mental health with older adults,” she said. “I wanted the community to be mindful and know their part in helping to prevent suicide.”

Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2019, according to Setzer’s research with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“I am hopeful that as a community we can help break the stigma that comes with mental health,” she said. “I want people to know that there is help out there.

“When they reach out, we should have resources prepared for them.”

Setzer said if someone is struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts or actions, they can reach out to her department at 417-847-6042 if they are an older adult, the Clark Community Mental Health Center crisis hotline or they can go to the emergency room.

“Some signs of suicidal behavior can be getting their affairs in order,” she said. “Sometimes a person who is contemplating suicide will hoard the instrument in which they plan to use to commit suicide [like pills, bullets, etc.]. Additionally, we usually see that a person will visit their primary care physician within a month of attempting suicide.”

To help combat suicide, Senior Life Solutions is offering a free and public webinar on Sept. 24 at 2 p.m.

“The webinar is called, ‘Let’s Talk Mental Health for September Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month,’” Setzer said. “We will hear from two guest speakers: Douglas Craddock, LMHC, Director of Therapeutic Services for PMC’S Senior Life Solutions, and Nina Jordania, MD, a Psychiatrist for PMC and Senior Life Solutions.”

Craddock will speak on suicide prevention, the pandemic’s impact on suicidal thoughts and actions, and share statistics and information specific to different age groups including children, adolescents, and the geriatric population, and Jordania will speak on “Aging in Isolation - A Silent Killer” and the impact of suicide on the older adult population.

“This webinar is free opportunity to be able to get important information from licensed professionals who have worked in the field for many years,” Setzer said. “Suicide numbers have gone up with this pandemic due to the social isolation. It is causing people to not have a release or outlet, which is so important for people to have.

“I urge people to stay in contact any way they can, whether it be by phone, letter or social media.”

Setzer approached Bill Shiveley, Cassville mayor, about addressing suicide prevention and awareness and she heard on Sept. 4 that he would be signing the proclamation.

“He was in agreement from the very beginning,” she said. “In fact, he put it on the agenda the very same day.”

Setzer has worked at Senior Life Solution since 2015, and this is her first attempt to bring this topic to the community.

“So far, it has been very successful and welcomed by all,” she said.

People may register for the webinar at https://landing.calendarsnack.com/snack/invite/grey/qomi2bm98m1egsl8gtbc3if5h1ki....

The Clark Center 24-hour crisis hotline is 1-800-801-4405.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and it is also available 24 hours.

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