Share September Wellness Corner Here at People, Pets & Vets, your mental health and wellbeing is of utmost importance to us. We understand that a career in veterinary medicine can be immensely rewarding, but we also acknowledge that it can become overwhelming and stressful at times. September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and we know it is important to take care of our teams every day of every month of every year. This month’s wellness newsletter is dedicated to highlighting and sharing important information on suicide prevention. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Every year, approximately 800,000 people die from suicide globally; this is about one person dying every 40 seconds. It causes immeasurable pain, suffering and loss to individuals, families, and communities nationwide. The causes of suicide are complex and determined by multiple combinations of factors, such as mental illness, substance abuse, painful losses, exposure to violence, and social isolation. Many people are uncomfortable with the topic of suicide. As a result, people rarely communicate openly about suicide. Therefore, an important public health problem is left hidden in secrecy, which can hinder effective prevention efforts. Although it may be difficult to approach the topic of suicide, reach out to those who are in distress. Often, family and friends are the first to recognize the warning signs of suicide and can be the first step toward helping an at-risk individual find treatment with someone who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. Warning Signs You should reach out for professional help if you or someone you know is showing any of the following warning signs: Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain Talking about being a burden to others Giving away prized possessions Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly Sleeping too little or too much Withdrawing or feeling isolated Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge Displaying extreme mood swings Exhibiting daring or risk-taking behaviors Showing lack of interest in future plans 5 Steps for Helping Someone Who May Be Suicidal Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference. Be there: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts. Help them connect: Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number in your phone so it’s there when you need it: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also help the at-risk person make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional to reach out to when suicidal thoughts arise. Stay connected: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person. It can be frightening when a friend or loved one reveals or shows signs of suicidal thoughts. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, call (800) 273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, or text MHA to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. Dr. Nicole McArthur founded an organization called Not One More Vet. This is an online support group with over 26,000 veterinary professionals worldwide that exists to create a sense of community and support. You can learn more about the amazing work this organization does by visiting https://www.nomv.org. Managing anxiety and stress on a day-to-day basis is important in terms of suicide prevention. Taking a proactive approach to your mental health is valuable. To help promote overall positive wellbeing, there are several things you can do. Engage in meditation and/or mindfulness-based stress reduction. Engage with co-workers to celebrate successes and mourn sorrows as a group. Connect with other colleagues, either in person or through online discussions like Not One More Vet, for shared support that can help you feel supported and heard. Practice expressive writing – Journaling for about 15 minutes every day about what stressed you out that day, what went well that day, etc. (Freestyle) Practice your spiritual or religious beliefs. Complete basic hygiene tasks every day, such as combing/brushing your hair and changing into and out of work clothes (scrubs off before dinner!) Wash up before you leave work – Give it a try! Washing your hands and face before walking out of the door can help leave work at work. Think of it as a symbolic ‘washing away’ of the hardness of the day. Wondering if journaling actually works? A study by Sergeant and Mongrain (2014) found that expressive writing daily for three weeks helped participants become more engaged with life afterward, and it decreased their pessimistic beliefs over time. Resources Warmline – for those who aren’t in crisis, but want to talk to someone Crisis Text Line – text HOME to 741741 to reach a Crisis Counselor 24/7/365 The Trevor Lifeline – for LGBTQIA youth: (866) 488-7386 Disaster Distress Helpline – talk with a trained counselor: (800) 985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 Veterans Crisis Line – connect with a VA responder: (800) 273-8255 and Press 1 or text 838255 Dial 211– 211 provides callers with information about and referrals to social services for every day needs and in times of crisis If you would like additional information on emotional and mental health, you can confidentially contact me at the information below.