Sept. 8, 2013, marks the start of the 39th annual National
Suicide Prevention Week highlighted by World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, 2013. Health Net, Inc. (NYSE: HNT) is helping to support this yearly education effort, which is spearheaded by the American Association of Suicidology (AAS), by working to increase awareness about suicide warning signs and ways to help someone who might be contemplating suicide.
Suicide is a serious public-health problem, said Steve Blake, vice president, Clinical Services for Managed Health Network, Inc. (MHN), the behavioral health services subsidiary of Health Net. Its a particularly alarming issue among adolescents and young adults. In fact, according to the AAS, suicide ranks second as a cause of death among Americans who are 25 through 34, and third among those 15 through 24 years of age.
The AAS additionally reports that:
- For the U.S. population as a whole, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death.
- On average, one suicide occurs every 14.2 minutes in the United States.
- Approximately 922,725 Americans attempt suicide annually.
Suicide obviously is self-inflicted, so prevention is entirely possible, Blake said. Thats why MHN, working with the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), developed for MHN members an expansive library of online resources focusing on suicide and related mental-health issues. Thats also why MHN provides its members with 24/7 phone access to licensed clinicians.
While those who are thinking of taking their own lives may not express that theyre having a problem, Blake said, mental-health experts often point to several common warning signs. Included among these, reports MFMER, are:
- Talking about suicide for example, making statements such as I’m going to kill myself, I wish I were dead, or I wish I hadn’t been born.
- Obtaining the means to commit suicide, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills.
- Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone.
- Exhibiting mood swings, such as being exuberant one day and depressed the next.
- Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence.
- Expressing feelings of being trapped or hopeless.
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs.
- Changing normal routines, including eating or sleeping patterns.
- Engaging in risky or self-destructive behavior, such as using drugs or driving recklessly.
- Giving away belongings or taking steps to get ones affairs in order.
- Saying goodbye to people in a manner that suggests they wont be seen again.
- Displaying personality changes or extreme anxiety, particularly when exhibiting some of the warning signs listed above.
If you suspect that a friend or loved one is contemplating suicide, MFMER recommends the following actions:
- Encourage the person to seek treatment. Ideally, the individual should consult a doctor or mental-health provider. But, if he or she is unwilling to do so, suggest reaching out to a support group, crisis center or faith community. Or, the person can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Help the person get assistance. For example, you can research treatment options, make phone calls, review insurance benefit information or take the person to an appointment.
- Facilitate open communication. Be supportive and understanding. Also, listen attentively and avoid interrupting.
- Be respectful of the persons feelings. Even though someone whos suicidal isnt thinking logically, the emotions are real. Not acknowledging how the person feels can curtail communication.
- Dont be patronizing or judgmental. Instead of contending that things could be worse or you have so much to live for, ask questions such as, What would make you feel better? or How can I help?
- Never promise to keep someones suicidal feelings a secret. The reason is simple. If you think that the persons life is in danger, youll have to get help.
- Offer reassurance. Emphasize that, with appropriate treatment, he or she will feel better about life.
- Encourage the person to avoid alcohol and drugs. Using drugs or alcohol can lead to reckless behavior and increase depression.
If you think that someone is in danger of committing suicide or has actually made a suicide attempt, MFMER advises:
- Dont leave the person alone.
- Call 911.
- Try to find out if he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
- If these options above arent possible, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Many people who commit suicide have expressed the intention at some point, says Blake. You may worry that youre overreacting, he adds, but when someones life is potentially at stake, thats a risk worth taking.
For more information about National Suicide Prevention Week, visit http://www.suicidology.org/resources/nspw.
Medical Advice Disclaimer
The information provided is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for professional medical care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health provider for any questions you may have regarding your medical condition and follow your health care providers instructions.
About Health Net
Health Net, Inc. is a publicly traded managed care organization that delivers managed health care services through health plans and government-sponsored managed care plans. Its mission is to help people be healthy, secure and comfortable. Health Net provides and administers health benefits to approximately 5.4 million individuals across the country through group, individual, Medicare (including the Medicare prescription drug benefit commonly referred to as Part D), Medicaid, U.S. Department of Defense, including TRICARE, and Veterans Affairs programs. Through its subsidiaries, Health Net also offers behavioral health, substance abuse and employee assistance programs, managed health care products related to prescription drugs, managed health care product coordination for multi-region employers, and administrative services for medical groups and self-funded benefits programs. For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit Health Nets website at www.healthnet.com.
This release contains links to other sites that are not owned or controlled by Health Net. Please be aware that Health Net is not responsible for the contents linked or referred to from this release. Links to other websites are provided for the users convenience. Health Net does not express an opinion on the content or the properties of such linked websites and disclaims any liability in connection therewith.