Tackling a difficult topic

Jodi Harms to lead suicide discussion during Healthy Connections talk

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Courtney Sogard Angie Goings, Jodi Harms, and Mary Limas, make up the staff of the Senior Life Solutions program at Van Diest Medical Center, where senior citizens aged 65 and older can find programs to help them to naviagate the struggles and challenges that arise as they age.

Kendall Young Library will be hosting its monthly Healthy Connections program on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m.

Jodi Harms, the Van Diest Medical Center Senior Life Solutions Program Director will be leading a Suicide Talk and how it specifically impacts senior citizens. The program will take place in the Library Meeting Room for those interested in attending.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

The Senior Life Solutions department at VDMC began in Nov. 2016, in order to provide an intensive outpatient program for adults aged 65 and older, to help them navigate through the challenges or struggles in their day to day lives. Patients can be referred to by a physician, family member, friend, or even oneself, and will then go through the paperwork portion of handling insurance costs to join the program, and discuss what their individual interest or needs.

An assessment will be conducted by Dr. Mark Lassise, the programs licensed Psychiatrist and by Harms herself who is a registered Nurse and has her Bachelors of Science in nursing. The program staff are equipped to operate standardized, evidence-based tools for screening patients displaying suicidal tendencies, according to Harms.

Each patient will have their own program designed to fit their indivdual needs and can receive treatment up to 3 days per week for 4 hours per day and will be receiving such services as group therapy, individual therapy, and health monitoring and education. Free transportation will be provided for those in need of services.

“A lot of the patients in our program feel there is no way out of their situation, but there is always a hope for them to get some help,” said Harms. “No matter what, take what they are saying seriously.”

Depression is an illness that is prevalent in older adults who have commited suicide, and unfortunately goes untreated as a medical condition. According to Harms, almost 58 percent of senior citizens feel that depression is a normal feeling to have as one ages, but she wants to instill in them that their quality of life can always be better. They don’t have to settle for the way they’re currently feeling. Seventy-five percent of the older adults who have died by suicide each year had visited their physician briefly prior to their death, added Harms.

The sad truth is that each year more than 34,000 individuals will take their own lives. That’s 1 death by suicide every 12 minutes in the United States. This makes suicide the 10th largest cause of death among adults in the U.S., and the 3rd leading cause of death among adolescents, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health, or NAMI website.

There are always warning signals for those exhibiting signs of suicidal tendencies, the major one being suicidal ideation, which is when the individual contemplating ending their life is making threats or comments about following through with the act. People may notice an increase in drug or alcohol use within your loved one or more aggressive behavior. Other signs can be exhibiting unstable behavior or mood swings, as well as signs of becoming socially withdrawn or more introverted than they once were.

The topic of death itself may play a more prevalent role in their daily lives, making it all they ever talk about or dwell upon. There may also be signs of recklessness or impulsiveness that have now manifested into this penchant for suicide.

If you or someone you know has exibited any of the afore mentioned signs, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness website, don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to seek out help for your loved one.