REPS: Suicide Prevention Advocate Program in Moffat County hopes to provide comfort for those suffering
With the generous support of the Moffat County United Way and HRC, we are excited to implement the new Suicide Prevention Advocates Program. This program is in conjunction with Memorial Regional Health in Craig.
Whenever someone is admitted to the emergency room with suicidal ideation or suicide attempt, a trained volunteer is assigned to sit with him or her. In the past, that person was often a security officer who was not allowed to speak to the patient. With the new program, however, the trained volunteers act as advocates for the patient and can provide education and support about services available, give the patient an idea about what to expect or simply listen.
On average, more than 100 patients per year in crisis are seen in the emergency department. It’s our goal to offer one-on-one support for these individuals who are suffering.
We have spent the past year training more than 50 individuals in Moffat County in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, or ASIST. Several people who have taken the training are willing to participate in the volunteer program at the hospital. Volunteers will offer to take 12-hour shifts and be available, if called, by the ED staff. Often, patients wait between 12 and 48 hours before they are transferred to a facility for help. Sometimes, hospitalization can be the best option to keep the person safe and stabilize symptoms.
Following are things to look for if you think someone may need to be admitted to the emergency department.
• Delusional or experiencing hearing or seeing things.
• Threaten or try to take their lives or harm themselves or others.
• Have problems with alcohol or other substances.
• Have symptoms of mania or depression that significantly inhibit daily life.
• Require medical supervision or significant changes in medication.
• Have a significant change in behavior or mood or suddenly become euphoric or extremely happy
How can you convince loved ones to check in to the hospital voluntarily? Start by talking with them about behaviors you have seen that indicate the hospital may be a better place for them at the time. Explain that hospitalization provides a safe place to allow symptoms to pass and medication to be adjusted and stabilized. Reassure your loved one that hospitalization is a private matter. No one outside the family needs to be told about the hospitalization. Tell your loved one that getting help does not mean he or she has failed. A mood disorder is an illness that needs treatment, similar to diabetes or heart disease. Finally, offer the person a choice, such as going to the hospital with you or another loved one.
If you don’t know where to begin getting help with mental health issues, substance use or emotional crises for yourself or someone you know, call MindSpring Health in Craig at 970-824-6541, or call Colorado Crisis services. They provide confidential and immediate support, 24/7/365.
If you are in crisis or need help dealing with a crisis, call 844-493-TALK (8255), toll free, or text TALK to 38255 to speak with a trained professional. They offer translation services for non-English speakers, engage in immediate problem solving and always make follow-up calls to ensure you receive continued care.
“Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide seeks to preserve, protect and promote life by providing the Yampa Valley with a group of trained volunteers, collaborative initiatives, educational programs, compassionate survivor care and proactive suicide prevention efforts”.
For more information about how to become a volunteer for the Suicide Prevention Advocate Program, call Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide at 970-846-8182.
Mindy Marriott is executive director of Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide.
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