Monday Medical: Campaign targets men and suicide

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Suicide prevention resources

■ Man Therapy: www.mantherapy.org

■ Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide: www.preservinglife.org

There are certain things a manly man just shouldn’t do: slap fight, skip and refer to baseball runs as “points.”

Being open and honest about your life and problems? That is one of the least “unmanly” things, said Rich Mahogany, a fictional doctor featured on www.mantherapy.org.

The website is the centerpiece of a Colorado educational campaign that uses humor to help men tackle issues such as depression, divorce, financial hardship and thoughts of suicide.

“They are trying to get men to look at this maybe for their friends or co-workers or even themselves,” said Ronna Autrey, executive director of Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, which promotes suicide awareness in the Yampa Valley. “Men are so hard to reach. … They are the people we are losing the most because they don’t ask for help.”

Colorado has the sixth-highest rate of suicide in the U.S., according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Men between the ages of 25 and 54 make up a significant portion of suicide deaths in the state.

The high suicide rate in the Rocky Mountain region has been attributed to factors including geographic and social isolation, harsh climates and access to guns. A 2010 study by the University of Utah School of Medicine linked high altitudes to increased suicide risk in people suffering from depression.

Hard economic times and high unemployment exacerbate the situation, especially for unemployed men accustomed to providing for their families.

The stigma attached to seeking mental health help can prevent a man from realizing he has a problem. Often, men will self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, leading them on a potentially deadly path.

Although history of depression or mental illness and substance abuse is associated with the majority of suicides, some depression is situational, Autrey said.

Either way, treatment in the form of medication and/or counseling can help men overcome the hopelessness, frustration and shame preventing them from seeing a brighter future.

“Somehow, we have to reach these men and get them to understand this is a disease, and it’s OK to get help,” Autrey said. “If a little bit of humor helps them do that, great.”

The Man Therapy campaign and website, launched by the Office of Suicide Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, helps men gauge their level of depression and provides resources for men and individuals worried about a loved one or friend.

Signals that a person should seek help include sadness or depression lasting more than two weeks, changes in energy levels, sleep problems, frequent crying, loss of self-esteem, frequent irritability and anger, extreme anxiety and inability to concentrate.

Giving away important items for no particular reason or not attending social events and activities are other big signs that something is wrong with a family member or friend, Autrey said.

Men who aren’t sure how to seek help can start by explaining their situation to their family doctor or contacting a mental health clinic, such as Steamboat Mental Health Center (970-879-2141). Sliding-scale mental health services and financial assistance are available.

A support group for individuals coping with depression or bipolar disorder meets from 6:30 to 8 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays of each month at Yampa Valley Medical Center. The group is well-attended by men, Autrey said.

More information about suicide prevention and mental health issues will be available at the Yampa Valley Wellness Conference Sept. 29 at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. The event is free. To register, call Autrey at 970-846-8182.

For more information about Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, visit www.preserving life.org.

Tamera Manzanares is a community outreach specialist for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.

Comments

Sandra Sharp 2 years, 4 months ago

I have been told that Colorado has the fourth lowest Mental Health Funding in the country. If we seriously want to lower the suicide rate, we have to increase the funding for mental health services. Due to this lack of funding and lack of awareness, it can take up to six weeks for a depressed and suicidal individual to attain an appointment with a psychiatrist.

We also have to shift the focus away from treating suicidal patients like criminals. To take away the dignity of someone by shackling and cuffing them and loading them in the back of a police car for transport to Grand Junction is horrid. Steamboat does not have a psych facility, thus the need for a transfer. Once admitted to the Grand Junction facility, the access to a psychiatrist is still limited.

There is much that can be done to improve our Mental Health Services. First, we need to agree that what we are now doing is not working. Then we can make a plan and a commitment to make changes.

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mark hartless 2 years, 4 months ago

What if the problem was not "funding" or "awareness", but hopelessness?

What if we took money from schools to fund this "awareness"? What if we took money from medicare to increase this "awareness? What if we took money from Solyndra to fund "awareness"? What if we took money from "cash-for-clunkers" to increase this funding?

What the Sandra Sharps of the world fail to acknowledge is that there IS no more money. We have spent it all. They also9 fail to see we have spent it poorly.

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Sandra Sharp 2 years, 3 months ago

Off the top of my head I can think of several solutions to the funding issue: 1. Increase taxes. 2. Decrease the "loop-holes" that allow top earners and corporations to not pay taxes. 3. Have fund raisers, such as for breast cancer, for mental health issues. Also, it doesn't cost a cent to end treating those with mental health issues as if they are crimminals. It does't cost a cent to stop cuffing suicide patients. It doesn't cost a cent to have a hot line that does not go through the police department. It doesn't cost a cent to run articles on how to protect our mental health. It doesn't cost a cent to provide care for those before they become suicidal.

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rhys jones 2 years, 3 months ago

Capital Idea: How about a surcharge on bullets, to pay for these programs? The advantages become immediately obvious:

-- We can finally profit on the all-too-popular mass shootings.

-- Those most likely needing the service will be paying for it.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 3 months ago

Mark, "Hopelessness" is not a reason to justify suicide. Look at all of his friends that came out to search for him and first found his vehicle and when Sheriff's search failed to find anything, then his friends found his body. He had friends that his mental state stopped him from seeing.

Suicide is rarely the result of a well thought out rational decision making process. Note that one symptom of depression is difficulty concentrating. It is more typically fueled by alcohol or drug abuse and a bad emotional state.

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mark hartless 2 years, 3 months ago

Scott, I actually had the same thought the other day when the bad news came in. Here was a poor guy who might have thought nobody cared. What a shame to find out too late that a lot of people really did care.

I have a good friend who lost his mom to suicide at a young age. Although he grew up and adapted well, it would take a long time to explain all the hurt and messed up emotions it caused. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Sandra, If taxes are increased it might CAUSE more suicides than it prevents. It might cause some "assisted suicides" too. I'm all for getting rid of the loopholes from one end to the other, but corporations DO NOT pay taxes; never have, never will. They only COLLECT taxes from their customers. Advocating a rise in corporate taxes is advocating a price increase on YOURSELF.

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Sandra Sharp 2 years, 3 months ago

Suicide happens for different reasons. Many people commit suicide knowing that people care about them, however, due to depression etc they are not thinking clearly and they feel desperate and hopeless. Also, many have asked for help and instead been trated like a crimminal and will not ask for help again.

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