GLOBAL HEALTH ISSUES:
MENTAL HEALTH — SUICIDE
2. Alcohol or drug use.
Here are some ways elders can help in suicide prevention:
Some warning signs for suicide include:
- Talking or writing about death or suicide.
- Withdrawing from family and friends.
- Feeling hopeless or helpless.
- Feeling strong anger or rage.
- Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
- Abusing drugs or alcohol.
- Acting impulsively.
- Losing interest in most activities.
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits.
- Performing poorly at work or in school.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Feeling excessive guilt or shame.
- Acting recklessly.
2. Offer warm connection, acceptance, and a caring attitude toward all, but most importantly toward those who are vulnerable, lonely, and have suffered traumatic events in their lives. Strengthening connectedness within community can be one of the most important factors in decreasing risk for suicide.
3. Provide helpful resources and access to mental health care and addiction recovery programs such as Adventist Recovery Ministries Global.4 Educational programs such as Mental Health First Aid are also offered in many communities. The faith community can be a place for education, not just about the risk factors for suicide, but also about mental health, thus helping to diminish the stigma associated with these conditions, and then refer to treatment by a health professional.
4. Share messages of hope and healing that can build one’s faith in Christ and give them a sense of purpose and self-worth. A deep loving relationship with God can help in prevention and healing. If possible, schedule a mental health Sabbath and preach about mental health topics such as suicide, offering words of encouragement and hope.
Every year on October 10, we have a World Mental Health Day. This date offers a great opportunity to put into practice some of the suggestions above. Let us remind people that nothing, including suicide, can separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:38, 39). People who die by suicide are not “deplored” and elders can send a message that it is unjust the stigma that so often falls on surviving family members and friends. Let us minister to the family of survivors and do not judge those who survive a suicide attempt.
3 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal - http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/
Katia Reinert is associate director of the Health Ministries Department for the General Conference.
ELDER'S DIGEST OCTOBER | DECEMBER 2017