|DeNean Petersen and Miss Emery County JaNell Jones.|
JaNell Jones, Miss Emery County 2002, has chosen "Suicide Prevention Awareness" as her service project for her scholarship platform. Jones says this is a difficult subject because people are very hesitant to talk about it with anyone. Still, she has done presentations at Canyon View Junior High, San Rafael Junior High and Emery High.
As Jones has chosen "There's Always Tomorrow" as the theme for her platform and September was National Suicide Prevention month, she chose Sept. 28 to present a workshop to promote public awareness for this delicate subject. She wanted to let every person know that there are many other choices to be made than suicide. Jones did the research and came up with a highly recommended speaker, DeNean Petersen from Iron County Victims services.
Petersen was originally from Molen and still has roots in Emery County, so she was glad to be back "home." Petersen began the workshop with the statement that Utah is above the national average for suicides per capita and that suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people. These startling facts are evidence that the parents, as well as all the citizens of this state, need to be educated about the warning signs and what to do about them.
Petersen stressed how suicide impacts the entire community, not only the family left behind and that depression is statistically tied to the suicide rate. When people experience a traumatic event in their lives, the reactions can vary from person to person. So as neighbors and friends, and often, parents, we need to be on our guard for the signs.
Sometimes the signs of depression, and possibly impending suicide are subtle. We need to be aware of the circumstances of those around us and those we care about. People often lose their sense of personal control when depression takes over their lives and desperation to feel control over some portion of their life takes control. These are some of the warning signs.
*Abrupt changes in personality.
*Giving away possessions.
*Previous suicide attempt.
*Use of drugs and/or alcohol.
*Depression. Lack of self esteem.
*Withdrawal from people, especially close friends, family and/or favorite activities.
*Change in eating and sleeping patterns.
*Restlessness-inability to concentrate.
These signs are often markers of a persons feelings of last resort, the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, impair their vision of tomorrow. Suicide prevention is AWARENESS to the nuances of the warning signs.
Often, the first step to suicide prevention is the recognition of these symptoms and opening the lines of communication to that person. When you ask "How are you today?" mean it. Don't let your body language tell that person that you do not really care or that you are worried about how much time this may take. If you do not intend to carry through when you ask if a person needs help, don't ask.
The main point of this workshop was to prepare people with the knowledge of what to do after you ask the first "How are you?" As you attempt to open the lines of communication, a person should make the other as comfortable as possible. Create an open, honest and warm circumstance, not only physically, but mentally. The door to this relationship must first open a crack to continue to become fully open.
Be prepared to offer the person alternatives to his daily problems. Point out how his actions affect, not only him, but everyone around him. Don't hesitate to enable this person find a professional to help.
Petersen stated, "We need to watch those who have had a major trauma. We need to be more vigilant and caring and open to communication."
People can not let this frightening, taboo subject be ignored. Help is available through church, community health centers, medical clinics, and national programs such as "The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program." at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or www.yellowribbon.org.