Dickinson Center

During September, National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the site-based Psychiatric Rehabilitation staff at Dickinson Center, Inc. (DCI) in Ridgeway is joining other organizations and individuals across the nation and around the world to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

Rita Kraus, senior program director, said, “Like addiction, suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, regardless of their age, background or gender. If you or someone you know show signs of suicidal tendencies, SPEAK UP, because it’s important to receive professional help immediately.”

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and it’s the 2nd leading cause of death among 15-24-year olds. In Pennsylvania, one person dies by suicide every five hours.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers say more than half of people who died by suicide were not diagnosed with a mental health problem. So, suicide often takes family and friends by surprise.

“Suicidal urges may emerge as a result of untreated mental health conditions or challenging circumstances,” stated Robert Green, director of DCI’s Psychiatric Rehabilitation location in Bradford. “The more we raise awareness about this issue and the more we reduce stigma about speaking up, the more we are poised to offer support, help, and intervention.”

Anyone age 18 or older with the presence or history of mental health issues can participate or be referred to the DCI Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program for day-to-day behavioral health care. Offices are located in Bradford, Coudersport and Ridgway. Staff members have received training in an overview of the incidence of suicide and basic awareness skills, as well as direction on how to proceed if they believe someone they are working with may be contemplating suicide.

However, the risk-factors that contribute to suicidal thoughts or behavior that are most important to consider include major life changes or losses of a loved one, relationships, role / identity, onset of illness or serious money issues. Individuals involved with serious trauma, including veterans, emergency services personnel or first-responders, can be at risk, depending on how personally each is affected by the trauma. Relapses in sobriety/addiction can also be particularly vulnerable moments. In addition, past attempts are major risk factors for potential future attempts, and therefore no past experiences should ever be minimized or disregarded.

The real warning sign is a loss of hope. Some other signs might include:

• Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge

• Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking

• Feeling trapped, like there’s no way out

• Increased alcohol or drug use

• Withdrawing from friends, family & society

• Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time

• Dramatic mood changes.

“There is hope and help,” stated Rebecca Keagle, director of DCI’s Psychiatric Rehabilitation located in Coudersport. “We’ve helped hundreds of individuals find recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders. Our team helps consumers build resilience and build connections during trying times.”

In addition to a comprehensive spectrum of behavioral health services, DCI offers crisis phone support to any person age 14 and older at:

• Elk/Cameron Counties: 1-800-652-0562 anytime.

• Potter County: 814-274-8729 during routine office hours.

The following hotlines operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

• Crisis Text Line. Text “PA” to 741-741

• 9-1-1

For more information about Site-based Psychiatric Rehabilitation and other services at DCI, visit www.dickinsoncenter.org.

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