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Know the Signs – HEALTH

By Gerry Lou Sertle, MSN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, Mental Health Provider at Southwest Behavioral Services

According to WHO (World Health Organization) there is a link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders).  Many suicides happen impulsively, in moments of crisis, with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness.

Health SignThe great majority of people who experience a mental illness do not die by suicide.  However, of those who die from suicide, more than 90 percent have a diagnosed mental disorder.  The following are commonly seen in patients who die by suicide:

  • Depression, which is defined as is a common mental illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.  Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
  • Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mental illness that brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking, and behavior.
  • Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest real physical symptoms.
  • Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, with delusions and/or hallucinations.
  • Alcohol and drug use are related to suicide risk.  Individuals with a substance use disorder are almost 6 times more likely to report a lifetime suicide attempt than those without a substance use disorder.
  • Chronic illness and chronic pain can lead to depression.  World Health Organization (WHO) reports that a person who is suffering from chronic pain is 2-3 times more likely to commit suicide.  WHO states, “Those who commit suicide, do not want to end their life, they want to end their pain.”  It is important that people who experience pain seek help on how to adequately treat and manage pain.
  • Family history of suicide increases one’s risk for suicide.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, family history of suicide is among the most prevalent risk factors for suicide in the United States.  It is important when seeing a mental health provider that family history is discussed.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a professional, including the resources below:

  • Grant and Iowa County 24-hour crisis line (via Unified Community Services): 1-800-362-5717
  • Lafayette County 24-hour crisis line (via Northwest Connections): 1-888-552-6642
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to your local Emergency Room or call 911

Gerry Lou Sertle, MSN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC has been a prescribing provider at Southwest Behavioral Services since 2012.  She is a highly experienced psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with a special interest in children and adolescent populations.  Her experience in both mental health and family practice gives her a special understanding for her patients’ needs for overall wellness.

Southwest Behavioral Services (SBS) is the mental health service line at Southwest Health.  SBS has been part of Southwest Health since 1998 and has grown and developed around the community’s needs.  Included in our services are: Inpatient Geriatric Psychiatry serving ages 55 and older, Outpatient psychiatric care for ages 6 and up including medication management and psychotherapy, as well as a Memory Diagnostic Clinic.    If you have questions about our service line or want to schedule an appointment do not hesitate to call us at 608-348-3656.

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