Government website now offers 'suicide warning signs' for victims of recession
When the government starts warning you not to commit suicide, you know things have gotten bad.
The US Department of Health and Human Services now has a webpage for the current recession, "Getting Through Tough Economic Times." Headlined under the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (www.samhsa.gov/economy/), the guide offers tips on "how to deal with the effects financial difficulties can have on your physical and mental health." The site went public Tuesday.
Among the deleterious health effects the recession may spawn, the government says, is suicide.
"Unemployment and other kinds of financial distress do not 'cause' suicide directly, but they can be factors that interact dynamically within individuals and affect their risk for suicide," the site says. "These financial factors can cause strong feelings such as humiliation and despair, which can precipitate suicidal thoughts or actions among those who may already be vulnerable to having these feelings because of life-experiences or underlying mental or emotional conditions (e.g., depression, bi-polar disorder) that place them at greater risk of suicide."
Other health risks the agency lists are depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors and substance abuse.
"It is important to be aware of signs that financial problems may be adversely affecting your emotional or mental well being -- or that of someone you care about," the agency notes.
The recession's toll is spelled out in specific terms. These signs include: persistent sadness/crying, excessive anxiety, increased drinking, apathy and "not being able to function as well."
On the plus side, the agency offers tips for managing stress -- "trying to keep things in perspective" and "strengthening connections with family and friends," as well as engaging in regular exercise.
"Acknowledge that economic downturns can be frightening to everyone, but that there are ways of getting through them - from engaging in healthy activities, positive thinking, supportive relationships, to seeking help when needed from health professionals," the site writes. "Encourage community-based organizations and groups to provide increased levels of mental health treatment and support to those who are severely affected by the economy."
But should things go sour, the Department of Health and Human Services offers these warning signs for the friends and family of those who've been through economic turmoil.
* Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
* Looking for ways to kill oneself
* Thinking or fantasying about suicide
* Acting recklessly
* Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life
If someone you know is encountering these problems, the site suggests calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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