Lake County Suicide Prevention Task Force Sponsors Seminar; How to Recognize and React to Signs of Suicidal Behavior

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 22, 2017 | Go to article overview

Lake County Suicide Prevention Task Force Sponsors Seminar; How to Recognize and React to Signs of Suicidal Behavior


Byline: Bob Gorman

Sharing the latest in suicide prevention trends and practices with area professionals, the Lake County Suicide Prevention Task Force sponsored a daylong seminar April 11, 2017, at the College of Lake County's Grayslake campus.

The event was hosted by the College's Human Services and Social Work Department. About 175 professional social workers and other clinicians attended.

Jason I. Chen Ph.D., the Health Services Research and Development Fellow at the VA Portland Health Care System, traveled from Oregon to lead the seminar. Chen is a member of the Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care (CIVIC) team.

Dr. Chen identified several warning signs that indicate that someone may be at imminent risk of taking their own lives. These include experiencing recent changes in sleep difficulties, hopelessness, anxiety, anger or mood swings, engaging in risky behaviors, withdrawing from family, friends and co-workers, increased use of alcohol and drugs and talking about death and dying.

These factors also may be influenced by significant stressors such as financial loss or relationship instability, Dr. Chen said. For veterans, possible additional stressors include length, frequency and type of deployment, especially if it includes combat.

Protective factors such as a social support system, a sense of purpose, and values and beliefs, may also play a role in someone's thinking and actions, he added.

Dr. Chen told the clinicians that, if they encounter someone who is in a suicidal crisis, they can act with care and compassion by following the VA Office of Suicide Prevention's acronym SAVE:

Signs of suicidal thinking should be recognized;

Ask the most important question: "Are you thinking of taking your own life?;

Validate the person's experience; and

Encourage treatment while Expediting the intervention of help. …

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