The Suicide Prevention Task Force of Central Kansas Partnership held a Yellow Ribbon Training for area school counselors at Barton County Health Department on January 7 and had a great turnout. The Task Force met on Feb. 20 and decided on Community Education messages and components for March through September 2015. The task force will partner with Barton Community College to present “Suicide Punchline” –a one-woman performance and talk back session—on Thursday, April 23, 7pm at the BCC Fine Arts Auditorium. The public is invited to attend. Members also set the date for the Golden Belt Glow for Life (Remembrance Ceremony, Fun Walk, and 5 K Run) for the evening of Saturday, September 12, at Vet’s Park, Great Bend, KS. All interested people are invited to attend and participate. More details for the event and registration forms will be provided in May.
Northwest Kansas Suicide Prevention Coalition
Julie Rowland, Johanna Mason and Juan Baez held an ASIST training March 2 and 3 in Phillipsburg for the Northwest Kansas coalition. The training was fully booked and they are looking to do another one in late May or early June with approx 6 or more people already on the list.
Increased interest in Norton and Rooks Counties is opening the door for a possible 4 county coalition.
Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition
On January 15, 2015, with over 100 participants, the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition held their second annual Awareness Event for School Professionals. The Olathe School District provided the space for this event and shared valuable information to the group about one of their school’s experience with suicide. The event also included topics such as self-harm and social media with speakers from Marillac. The coalition hopes to host an awareness event for school professionals annually.
Shawnee County Suicide Prevention Coalition
Shawnee County is planning their third 5K Run/walk in September. The specific date is TBD.
Veterinarians and Suicide
Ingrid C. Garrison, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, the State Public Health Veterinarian with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has published an article in the Kansas Veterinary Medical Association's newsletter regarding suicide rates of veterinarians. The article describes the findings from a nation-wide survey recently published in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Dr. Garrison also includes possible warning signs and risk factors people struggling with suicidal thoughts might exhibit, and provides tools to help those who could be struggling. Read more here.
Veterinarians and Suicide
Ingrid Garrison, DVM, MPH, DACVPM
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in the United States and the 2nd leading cause of death for people 15-44 years of age in Kansas 1, 2. In the past there has been little information available on suicide risk factors and suicidal behavior among veterinarians. During 2014 an anonymous web-based survey was e-mailed to veterinarians in the United States. A summary of the findings of this survey, Veterinarians and Mental Health, was recently published in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The results are based on the response of more than 10,000 veterinarians, approximately 10% of veterinarians in the United States. It presents a sobering picture:
6.8% of males and 10.9% of females in the profession have serious mental illness/psychiatric disorder, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness since graduation from veterinary school. Compared to 3.5% and 4.4% lifetime average in the U.S., males in the veterinary profession have twice the prevalence and females in the profession have two to three times the prevalence compared to the national average.3,4
24.5% of males and 36.7% of females in veterinary medicine have experienced depressive episodes since leaving veterinary school, which is about one-and-a-half times the prevalence of a U.S. adult throughout their lifetime.3,4
14.4% of males and 19.1% of females in the veterinary profession have considered suicide since leaving veterinary school. This is three times the U.S. national average.3,4
1.1% of males and 1.4% of females in the veterinary profession have attempted suicide since leaving veterinary school. This is below the national average for suicide attempts and the authors suggest that it may be due to veterinarians’ ready access to drugs used in lethal suicide attempts, that they are more likely to die by suicide, thus there are fewer survivors to respond to the survey.3,4
The three primary stressors identified by the respondents were the demands of veterinary practice; veterinary practice management responsibilities; and professional mistakes and client complaints.4
If you think that you, or someone you know, need help please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and you will be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, ANYTIME 24/7.
The following signs may mean that someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change5;
· Talking about wanting to die or kill themselves
· Looking for a way to kill themselves
· Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
· Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
· Talking about being a burden to others
· Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
· Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
· Sleeping too little or too much
· Withdrawing or feeling isolated
· Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
· Displaying extreme mood swings
The United States Air Force Suicide Prevention Program uses the acronym ACE (Ask, Care, Escort) to help Airmen remember the steps to take for suicide prevention. These same steps can be used by anyone who is trying to help6;
· Ask – Have the courage to ask the question directly, ‘Are you thinking of killing yourself’?
· Care – Calmly control the situation, actively listen to show understanding, remove any means that could be used for self-injury
· Escort – Never leave someone alone if they said they want to kill themselves, escort them to a behavioral health professional, primary healthcare provider, or an Emergency Department. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
Veterinarians are respected for our kindness and compassion to our patients and our clients. We need to extend those same attributes to our colleagues and ourselves. If you, or someone you know, are in a crisis, whether or not you are thinking about killing yourself, please call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
1. Suicide Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/index.html
2. The Kansas Annual Summary of Vital Statistics. Kansas Department of Health and Environment. http://www.kdheks.gov/hci/annsumm.html
3. Prevalence of Risk Factors for Suicide Among Veterinarians – United States, 2014. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6405a6.htm?s_cid=mm6405a6_e
4. Veterinarians and Mental Health: CDC Results Resources. American Veterinary Medical Association. http://atwork.avma.org/2015/02/12/veterinarians-and-mental-health-cdc-results-and-resources/
5. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
6. Air Force Suicide Prevention. http://www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/suicideprevention/