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Guest post from Essentia Health of Brainerd
Did you know that September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month?
And since we all know suicide touches families, friends and the entire community, the UpNoPa Moms thought it would be best to share some Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Resources that are available right here in our own community.
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Resources: Alissa’s Story
Although she never tried to kill herself, Alissa Haglin, 16, a sophomore at Brainerd High School, is a suicide survivor. Two years ago her best friend, who had been battling depression and mental health issues, locked them both in a classroom during the lunch period and attempted suicide in front of her. Haglin was able to call 911 on her cell phone to alert authorities.
Before this crisis event, there had been many others. Dealing daily with her friend’s pain took its toll. Over a two-year period, Haglin’s grades dropped. She listened to sad music and suffered from panic attacks.
“I felt her problems were mine to fix and that’s all I thought about,” Haglin explained.
“It was a parent’s nightmare,” added her mom, Ellen Haglin.
Alissa Haglin went to counseling and worked hard to move on with her life. She felt alone. But with time, she rediscovered things she enjoyed, like bowfishing with her big brother and working out. She made new friends and entered and won the Miss Jr. Teen Brainerd United States Pageant last year. Her pageant platform was suicide awareness.
Haglin is bringing The Hope Squad, a national suicide prevention program, to Crow Wing County. She is planning to speak to students in the Brainerd School District, and hopes to reach out to other area schools this year with her “End the Stigma” presentation. Her goal is to help students recognize the warning signs of suicide and give them the tools and support to seek help.
“No one wants to talk about it,” Haglin said, of suicide. “When you are going through what I went through, you feel alone. You are not alone. One in five people in Minnesota have a mental illness. We need to talk about it.”
Brainerd grad and Pequot Lakes teacher Jana Lueck has experienced suicide very close to home when her late husband, John took his own life. Read Jana’s story on Up North Parent co-founder, Becky’s site Franticmommy.com
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Resources: The Crisis Line and Referral Service
There are local resources that can help, as well as organizations working on mental health awareness. The Crisis Line and Referral Service, based in Brainerd, will celebrate its 30th year in 2018 as a 24-hour phone line that serves people in Crow Wing, Cass, Aitkin, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties. In 2017 the Crisis Line is projected to answer more than 8,000 phone calls. Most callers are dealing with depression or struggling with a mental health crisis. Most suicide calls occur in the spring and fall, explained Mary Marana, Crisis Line executive director.
“Mental health has a stigma; it’s not proper for anyone to have a mental illness. But mental illness is no different than having high blood pressure or diabetes,” Marana explained. “We, as a society, need to break that stigma.”
The Crisis Line and Referral Service offers a “Make it Ok” educational presentation to teach individuals about mental illness to help break the stigma. Crisis Line also offers “Question Persuade Refer (QPR) Training” for community organizations, churches, businesses and school staff to teach individuals how to recognize someone who may be suicidal, how to approach the person, what to say and how to get help. They also offer a five-hour Postvention training course for law enforcement, school administrators, and communities on how to be prepared if a suicide occurs. Each program provides evidenced-based training and offers continuing education credit. Crisis Line also does a suicide prevention program in schools within the six counties it serves.
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Resources: Crow Wing Energized Mental Fitness Group
Crow Wing Energized Mental Fitness Group meets monthly to find ways to build community resilience. Exercises like “Three Good Things” – where a person writes down three positive things at the end of each day for two weeks – and the Gratitude Tree are available.
“Our hope is that it will help people focus on the positives and build resiliency,” said Nathan Bertram, Crow Wing Energized Mental Fitness Group chair and supervisor for Adult Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Adult Protection Teams at Crow Wing County Community Services.
Warning Signs of Suicide
- Symptoms of depression, or other brain illnesses
- Suicidal statement or previous attempt, then happier/calmer
- Talking, reading, listening or writing about death/suicide
- Writing will, funeral plans; cleaning house/room/locker/desk
- Giving things away, returning borrowed items, saying goodbye
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol; starting to use
- Sudden interest or disinterest in religion
- Statements of hopelessness; lack of self-esteem
- Withdrawal from friends, family or favorite activities
- Changed eating or sleeping patterns; weight gain/loss, insomnia
- Falling grades, missed deadlines, often tardy or absent
- Irritability, angry outbursts, picking fights
- Acquiring gun; stockpiling pills, obsessed with guns or knives
- Risk-taking behavior or self-harm (cutting, burning)
Don’t keep it a secret. For help, call the Crisis Line and Referral Service at (218) 828-4357 or 1-800-462-5525. The Crisis Line is answered by trained volunteers 24 hours a day every day. It is an anonymous service and conversations are handled confidentially.
Here are some other resources that might be helpful
**a HUGE “Thank You” to Essentia Health of Brainerd for sharing this powerful story and information with us.