Saturday, February 3, 2018

Suicide Awareness - The Sixth of a 7-Part Series

Sorry we've been missing the last few weeks on our blog here. We've been hard at work though and trying to help anyone that reaches out to us. We also have our own website that we've been working on and we'll have more on that in the near future.

"Although a person leaving an outpatient program is not likely to be actively suicidal, make sure they don’t return to an empty house. Listen to their preferences about who, when, and how many people they want around them, and try to provide companionship."

This is the sixth of our seven part series. Please check out the previous posts if you haven't already ( Part 1, Part Two, Part III, and Part 4, Part Five). Now to the good stuff.

Professional Care, Part 3: Outpatient Programs

Outpatient programs provide therapy, consultation, training, and activities for part of each day—sort of like going to school. Below are some of the benefits patients can receive from her outpatient program:
  • Skilled therapy: Working closely with patients in an extended program, psychologists and psychiatrists are able to offer help that is closely tailored to patients’ needs and situations.
  • A clear diagnosis: Using information from the hospital psychiatrist, family members, and the patient, the outpatient staff can sort through various possibilities and reach reasonable and logical conclusions about the patient’s condition, treatment, and prognosis. Tip: Do touch base with the outpatient program social worker or case manager to ensure that information is accurately transferred from the hospital.
  • Appropriate changes to medication: Psychiatric medications often need adjusting or changing, and the outpatient staff has enough time with the patient that they are able to make such adjustments so that medication works well with minimal side effects.
  • Exercises and techniques to help in bad moments: The outpatient staff can teach patients self-help skills such as mindfulness and cognitive behavior therapy techniques that continue to help after the program ends.
  • The opportunity to meet and talk with others who have been through difficult experiences: Because her outpatient program lasted for two weeks, Carol made friends in and enjoyed interacting with others in the program. On the last day of the program, she and her friends got together after activities had concluded and went out to a movie together.
  • Structure: Coming home from the hospital to a wide-open schedule can be very intimidating. An outpatient program provides enough structure that patients are occupied productively while waiting for medication and therapy to take effect. There is less time to dwell on problems and more opportunity to actively engage in solving them.
Of course, leaving the outpatient program presents another step down in structure and can be a challenging transition. Here are a few things that may help:
  • Companionship: Although a person leaving an outpatient program is not likely to be actively suicidal, make sure they don’t return to an empty house. Listen to their preferences about who, when, and how many people they want around them, and try to provide companionship.
  • Structure: Upon her return home, Laura was able to resume work via telecommuting. This was extremely helpful in taking her mind off of her problems and beginning to restore a sense of normalcy. Friends helped as well by planning activities. Within a few weeks Laura was attending appointments with a therapist and a psychiatrist, taking guitar lessons, and going to yoga. All of these things helped her to readjust to ordinary life.
  • Meaningful time with loved ones: Although Laura still suffered from feelings of derealization, reuniting with family members was profoundly meaningful to her. As she expressed it, “I can feel the love in my family, and even if nothing else is real, that’s enough.”
Next week we will finish out the final part of this series on suicide awareness.

Tapir Signal is looking for volunteers in a variety of areas including housing, employment, and other practical concerns as well as LGBT issues and suicide awareness. Suicide awareness volunteers must be 21 or older. They should be mental health practitioners and/or have personal or close family experience with suicide.

If you are in need of help, you can reach us here.

If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-784-2433 (outside the US, these calls are free via Skype).

If you are LGBT+ and need to talk, please contact the LGBT National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564 or find them online here.

Know you are safe and among friends and we will do whatever we can to help.

Lastly, if you would like to be involved or volunteer, you can reach out to us here.

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