Stopping Stigma

March 16th, 2015

Stigma—where does it come from & how do we change it?:

“Stigma against addicts exists because it is commonly believed that they are making bad choices, & that they have control over their actions. While this is essentially true—no one is forcing you to drink or use—there are fundamental changes in not only reward, but also executive control areas in the brain that make it hard to do what some consider a simple cost-benefit analysis before imbibing. ‘Addiction is so complex, & also so devastating, that many societies have ostracized and shamed people with addictive disorders..It’s easy to do that because the behavioral component—using something that is not working in one’s best interest—is poorly understood & thus easy to criticize.’”

>> Click to read the whole article on thefix.com

Community Support Happenings

December 18th, 2014

As our community continues to process the recent tragedies, many folks have created ways for us to be with one another & to support the affected families (last updated 12/19 @ 3pm):

  • The Souderton Area High School will be holding a vigil in memory of Nina & in hope for a full recovery for Anthony. The event will take place at the school on 12/22, 6:30pm in the gymnasium; doors will open at 6pm & all are invited to attend. If you have digital photos of to contribute, send them to Dan at dglatts@soudertonsd.org by 12/19.
  • A “Longest Night” service will be held at Souderton Mennonite Church, 12/21 at 4pm. There will be a vigil at LCBC Church in Harleysville on 12/21 at 7pm; the Montgomery County Adult Mobile Crises support team will also be set up, starting at 6pm. A “Longest Night” service will also be held at Generations of Indian Valley on 12/22 at 7pm. Visit the Indian Valley Ministerium Facebook page for more info.
  • The Lansdale PD is bringing a crisis response team from Victim Services Center (VSC) to town to help comfort & counsel members of the community. A presentation about VSC will provide a rundown of the many services they offer will be held on 12/22, 6pm at the Lansdale Parks & Recreation building, E. 7th St. & Lansdale Ave. VSC also has hotlines available 24/7: (888) 521-0983 or (610) ASSIST-1.
  • A fund has been set up at Univest for the surviving Stone & Flick children; learn more & donate here. Additionally, the Souderton Community Ambulance has a fund at Univest for Anthony & there is a fund at TD Bank in memory of Nikki & Trish; you may visit any branch to make donations. Finally, a Funds for Flick campaign contribution can be made here.
  • As we mentioned before, if you or someone you know needs support, it’s available 24/7: Montco Children’s Crisis Support phone is 888-HELP-414/(888) 435-7414 & Montco Adult Crisis Support phone is (855) 634-HOPE/(855) 634-4673. Many local schools have additional guidance counselor & social worker support available for students. Remember to check in with your kids & other loved ones — & yourself.
  • The Flick family funerals will be held once Anthony is well enough to attend them. Updates will be posted to the Sadler-Suess Funeral Home website.

If anyone has any other updates they’d like to share, please email us & we’ll edit this post. Our community is resilient, compassionate, & supportive. Together, we will recover & we will thrive <3

Suicide Risk Factors & Warning Signs

August 12th, 2014

Robin WilliamsWe’re grateful for the laughter, love, & great memories that Robin Williams brought to ours & so many others’ lives. We watched Mork & Mindy as kids, Dead Poets Society & Good Will Hunting as young adults, & introduced our son to him with Aladdin & Patch Adams… the world has lost a bright & brilliant light.

Nearly 1 million people commit suicide each year worldwide — about 1 death every 40 seconds or 3,000 per day. For each individual who takes his/her own life, at least 20 attempt to do so. PLEASE, take a couple minutes to read the risk factors & warning signs of suicide from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention below, TALK to the people in your life about suicide (even if it’s uncomfortable!), & share the suicide hotline: (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Our thoughts are with Robin’s family, as well as with the millions of other families who have lost a loved one to suicide <3

Risk Factors and Warning Signs

Risk factors for suicide are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take her or his life. Suicide risk tends to be highest when someone has several risk factors at the same time.

The most frequently cited risk factors for suicide are:

• Mental disorders, in particular: Depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder, Alcohol or substance abuse or dependence, Schizophrenia, Borderline or antisocial personality disorder, Conduct disorder (in youth), Psychotic disorders; psychotic symptoms in the context of any disorder, Anxiety disorders, Impulsivity and aggression, especially in the context of the above mental disorders
• Previous suicide attempt
• Family history of attempted or completed suicide
• Serious medical condition and/or pain
It is important to bear in mind that the large majority of people with mental disorders or other suicide risk factors do not engage in suicidal behavior.

Environmental Factors That Increase Suicide Risk

Some people who have one or more of the major risk factors above can become suicidal in the face of factors in their environment, such as:
• A highly stressful life event such as losing someone close, financial loss, or trouble with the law
• Prolonged stress due to adversities such as unemployment, serious relationship conflict, harassment or bullying
• Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide (contagion)
• Access to lethal methods of suicide during a time of increased risk

Again, though, it is important to remember that these factors do not usually increase suicide risk for people who are not already vulnerable because of a preexisting mental disorder or other major risk factors. Exposure to extreme or prolonged environmental stress, however, can lead to depression, anxiety, and other disorders that in turn, can increase risk for suicide.

Protective Factors for Suicide

Protective factors for suicide are characteristics or conditions that may help to decrease a person’s suicide risk. While these factors do not eliminate the possibility of suicide, especially in someone with risk factors, they may help to reduce that risk. Protective factors for suicide have not been studied as thoroughly as risk factors, so less is known about them.
Protective factors for suicide include:
• Receiving effective mental health care
• Positive connections to family, peers, community, and social institutions such as marriage and religion that foster resilience
• The skills and ability to solve problems

Protective factors may reduce suicide risk by helping people cope with negative life events, even when those events continue over a period of time. The ability to cope or solve problems reduces the chance that a person will become overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious. Protective factors do not entirely remove risk, however, especially when there is a personal or family history of depression or other mental disorders.

Warning Signs for Suicide

In contrast to longer term risk and protective factors, warning signs are indicators of more acute suicide risk.
Thinking about heart disease helps to make this clear. Risk factors for heart disease include smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol. Having these factors does not mean that someone is having a heart attack right now, but rather that there is an increased chance that they will have heart attack at some time. Warning signs of a heart attack are chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea. These signs mean that the person may be having a heart attack right now and needs immediate help.

As with heart attacks, people who die by suicide usually show some indication of immediate risk before their deaths. Recognizing the warning signs for suicide can help us to intervene to save a life.

A person who is thinking about suicide may say so directly: “I’m going to kill myself.” More commonly, they may say something more indirect: “I just want the pain to end,” or “I can’t see any way out.”

Most of the time, people who kill themselves show one or more of these warning signs before they take action:
• Talking about wanting to kill themselves, or saying they wish they were dead
• Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as hoarding medicine or buying a gun
• Talking about a specific suicide plan
• Feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
• Feeling trapped, desperate, or needing to escape from an intolerable situation
• Having the feeling of being a burden to others
• Feeling humiliated
• Having intense anxiety and/or panic attacks
• Losing interest in things, or losing the ability to experience pleasure
• Insomnia
• Becoming socially isolated and withdrawn from friends, family, and others
• Acting irritable or agitated
• Showing rage, or talking about seeking revenge for being victimized or rejected, whether or not the situations the person describes seem real
Individuals who show such behaviors should be evaluated for possible suicide risk by a medical doctor or mental health professional.

What To Do When You Suspect Someone May Be at Risk for Suicide

Take it Seriously
• 50% to 75% of all people who attempt suicide tell someone about their intention.
• If someone you know shows the warning signs above, the time to act is now.

Ask Questions
• Begin by telling the suicidal person you are concerned about them.
• Tell them specifically what they have said or done that makes you feel concerned about suicide.
• Don’t be afraid to ask whether the person is considering suicide, and whether they have a particular plan or method in mind. These questions will not push them toward suicide if they were not considering it.
• Ask if they are seeing a clinician or are taking medication so the treating person can be contacted.
• Do not try to argue someone out of suicide. Instead, let them know that you care, that they are not alone and that they can get help. Avoid pleading and preaching to them with statements such as, “You have so much to live for,” or “Your suicide will hurt your family.”

Encourage Professional Help
• Actively encourage the person to see a physician or mental health professional immediately.
• People considering suicide often believe they cannot be helped. If you can, assist them to identify a professional and schedule an appointment. If they will let you, go to the appointment with them.

Take Action
• If the person is threatening, talking about, or making specific plans for suicide, this is a crisis requiring immediate attention. Do not leave the person alone.
• Remove any firearms, drugs, or sharp objects that could be used for suicide from the area.
• Take the person to a walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital or a hospital emergency room.
• If these options are not available, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for assistance.

Follow-Up on Treatment
• Still skeptical that they can be helped, the suicidal person may need your support to continue with treatment after the first session.
• If medication is prescribed, support the person to take it exactly as prescribed. Be aware of possible side effects, and notify the person who prescribed the medicine if the suicidal person seems to be getting worse, or resists taking the medicine. The doctor can often adjust the medications or dosage to work better for them.
• Help the person understand that it may take time and persistence to find the right medication and the right therapist. Offer your encouragement and support throughout the process, until the suicidal crisis has passed.

>> Suicide Risk Factors & Warning Signs from AFSP.
>> Photo credit

Training update: EMDR & Gut Brain

May 14th, 2013

Both Jason and Mikaela have been to trainings over the past couple weeks:

    >>> Jason spent several days expanding his training and skills in EMDR, a therapeutic tool shown especially effective for those working through issues related to trauma, anxiety, panic, grief, depression, and chronic pain.

    >>> Mikaela went to a seminar on “Understanding the Gut Brain: Stress, Appetite, Digestion, and Mood,” facilitated by Dr. Merrily Kuhn, which showed the strong connection between what we eat and how we feel.

    Please contact the office if you’d like to learn more about how we can incorporate these trainings into your wellness program! Reach us by email at info@guidanceforgrowing.com or by phone at (215) 421-1634.

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