San Diego Therapist talks about personal experience with Suicide in her family

Dr. Jonathan Singer

 ~ discussing the very personal topic of suicide and it's impact on those left behind

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Suicide Prevention and the Grief of those Left Behind

I was personally devastated by suicide on July 1, 2007, when my youngest brother, Scott, took his own life at the age of 28.  Scott struggled for many years in and out of mental health treatment episodes.  He never quite let go of the perceived stigma of what it meant to have a mental illness, so he never fully accepted treatment.  Even if he had, we know some people still make the choice to end their life.  What they don't know, or can't know, is how the survivors they leave behind are profoundly affected. 

I met today's guest, Dr. Jonathan Singer, LCSW at the Podcast Movement conference in Chicago last July.  Jonathan has been the host of The Social Work Podcast for over 9 years.  He started it as a way of bringing his university students extra information between lectures.  it has since taken on a long life of it's own.  There is not only a vast array of information  pertaining to all aspects of  the field of social work, but he also delivers inspirational interviews of people doing extraordinary things. 

Jonathan's primary field of study is that of Suicide Prevention and Awareness.  He is the author of Dr. Singer is the author of 45 publications, including the 2015 book Suicide in Schools: A practitioner’s guide to multilevel prevention, assessment, intervention, and postvention .  He has given over 100 academic presentations around the country and is an expert in his field. 

What's Happening in This Episode

The first half of the episode features our conversation about:    -

- The ages of children most at risk for suicide

- How to discuss suicidal language with your child

- What to do when your child says things like, "I wish I were dead!"

- How to utilize professional help and when it should be considered

- The significance of the suicidal thoughts

- The Zero Suicide Initiative

- The Jason Flatt Act

- What #Not6 is all about

The second half of the episode, Jonathan dives in with me to explore how I and my family were affected by my brother's suicide.  I am exploring this publicly hoping that it will help shed light on how complicated the grieving process can be for such a loss and also help those who are survivors of a loved one's suicide feel less alone.  Grief is complicated even when we expect a death to take place (i.e. when an elderly parent passes away), but it becomes more complex when someone you love chooses to die by suicide.  My family's reaction is not unusual, but in general, we still do not speak abou losing loved one's to suicide openly.  I'm hoping that by speaking about it in this forum, others may start their own conversations with their loved ones struggling with the suicidal thoughts, or amongst themselves if they are already grieving.

Thank you for listening to this very personal episode. 

Resources

The Zero Suicide Initiative

The Jason Flatt Act

What #Not6 is all about

Dr. Jonathna Singer, LCSW's bio at Loyola University Chicago

The Social Work Podcast

 


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Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance

 

Jeff Dill

 ~ a retired Fire Captain and also a Counselor, he founded the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, whose mission is to raise awareness of mental health issues affecting firefighters and EMTs in an effort to decrease the growing number of suicides among them. Through outreach and education, FFBHA aims to better educate counselors and chaplains as to the different culture of the Fire service as well as provide firefighters and EMTs with training and workshops to prepare them for life before, during and after Service.

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For 26 years a firefighter, Jeff began as a volunteer and then went career in 1995.  FFBHA was founded after Hurricane Katrina – when firefighters from Palatine Rural Protection Fire district came back from rendering assistance, they wanted to see their EAP counselors to discuss the emotional impact of what they had experienced in New Orleans.  Unfortunately, the feedback on their experiences was that the counselors didn’t understand the firefighter culture.  

Jeff wanted to find a way to change that.  He went back for his Masters in counseling and in 2009 founded Counseling Service for FireFighters with the aim of educating his brothers and sisters on depression and anxiety.  But in 2010, he started getting calls from Departments around the country asking if he knew anything about firefighter suicides.  At the time, Jeff didn’t but soon realized, when he tried to collect the data, that no one was keeping records on this topic.  
FFBHA is a 501c3 and is the only service in the U.S. that tracks and validates data on suicides among firefighters and EMTs.  

Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance   ffbha.org

On the day of the interview less than 3 weeks ago, there were 92 suicides reported for 2015. Today, the 10th of November, this number has increased to 99. With estimates of a 30% reporting rate among those who know about FFBHA, the actual number of firefighters suffering from behavioral health issues is projected as being much higher.   

There appears to be insufficient training to raise the awareness of these men and women to understand how what they are going to see and experience on the job can affect them emotionally. 
The work of the FFBHA helps to spread the word about the factors that can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions, but it as a way of also reducing the number of addictions, untreated depression and anxiety through education and awareness.  

WORKSHOP THEMES
1. be direct when talking to each other
2. challenge with compassion - if you see or hear something
3. do an internal size-up of whats happening in your life

Jeff and his crew train the fire fighters to take a personal inventory of themselves to understand how their circumstances are affecting them, and how these situations have changed since the days of the structure fires alone.

WORKSHOP PROGRAMS
* Ambassador Program:
Enroll firefighters and counselors into FFBHA protocol to provide greater reach nationally

* Saving Those Who save others
In depth training in firefighter and ems suicide awareness and prevention,including warning signs specific to the fire service
Communication and Role-play exercises to prepare for direct communication in times of need

* A firefighter's life
A program for chaplains and counselors wanting to work with fire and EMS personnel to understand the culture. Participants get to gear up and practice a Search and Rescue exercise to better understand the rigors of the job.

* Saving those who save others family edition
Recognize how lifestyle is affecting families and children

* Behavioral health program development class
Essential elements needed in the creation of behavioral health program tailored to Fire and EMS

* Saying Goodbye and Emotional Detachment:
  a workshop for those entering retirement from the fire service, as perceived loss of identity following separation is problematic.

  - -
 
 FFBHA is in the process of updating their website .
The new site will provide more resources of trained counselors for available states. In the meantime, you can find the contact details of current FFBHA ambassadors who may be closer to you  at ffbha.org
 
  - -
 
 
 5 Bugles 4 Change
To let people know that those members who sign up are dedicated to making changes in behavioral health in their organizations. Fire Chiefs, training officers, chaplains and even firefighters who sign up receive a certificate to this effect.
 
  - -
 
The National Fallen Firefighter foundation has a memorial for firefighters lost in the line of duty.
With the success of the family retreat program, an upcoming FFBHA project is a Memorial Site for fallen brothers and sisters lost to suicide, where family can visit and pay their respects.

Contact

Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance ffbha.org
  3655 W. Anthem Way
  Suite A-109-374
  Anthem, AZ 85086

Office: 847-209-8208
FAX:   623-388-3642
info@ffbha.org

Linked-in: Jeff Dill

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Vets360 End the Stigma of PTS(d)

Rick Collins

~ Founder and executive director of Vets360.org ~ A veteran himself, Rick's mission is to help our new generation of returning combat veterans re-acclimatize to the society and freedom that they have been protecting. In this episode, set to release on tuesday 10/20, Rick speaks candidly about the need to remove the stigma of PTS(d), Carrying the Challenge, and Breaking Silence. Embodying the spirit of veterans helping their brethren, Rick is forthright and inspiring about the mission of Vets360.org.

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Carry the Challenge

Vets360-CarryTheChallenge

 

We are used to hearing about the rates of Post traumatic Stress in our military veterans, but when we look across the board at the numbers of people in other high stress work environments, the numbers are not so different.

In researching this topic I found the numbers to be in a similar range for veterans, nurses and firefighters:

  • Veterans: Reports range from 20-31% of veterans from our current wars are being diagnosed with Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • Nurses: In a 2010 study of 332 nurses, they found that 22% had symptoms of PTSD and 18% met the full diagnostic criteria for it.
  • Firefighters: In studies done on firefighters, 7-37% are estimated to be diagnosed with PTSD. *We have a few guests coming up in future episodes who believe from their experience working in the departments that these numbers are terribly under-reported.
  • Teachers: We don’t have much by way of numbers on this population, but more and more teachers are reporting symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress given the current climate of school shootings taking place (see Episode 18 here).

Rick Collins and his team at Vets360 working to erase the reputation our troops get when they show signs of Post Traumatic Stress. Rick was inspired to start Vets 360 after 2 young marines he knew killed themselves. He believes that if we can give our troops the tools to reintegrate, there will be less distress for them during the process, thus allowing them to also get the help for dealing with the traumatic stress that they may need.

 

In this interview, you will hear:

  • How Vets360.org got started

  • The mission of Vets360
  • What they mean when they say, “Combat trauma is a natural extension of combat, not a personal failure to cope.”
  • How they put their mission into action
  • What a veteran learns by participating in their “vets course”
  • What “Carry the Challenge” refers to
  • What “Breaking Silence” is referring to
  • How you can get involved with Vets 360

 

Quotes from episode

"PTS is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation" Click to tweet

"Veterans: We train them how to kick down doors but not how to get ready for civilian life" Click to tweet

"Combat trauma is a natural extension of combat, not a personal failure to cope" Click to tweet

"To stigmatize veterans as being less than valued for going through combat experience is not acceptable" Click to tweet

~ Rick Collins (Chaos.tips/Vets360)


Resources / Contact

Websites Vets360.org | Carry the Challenge

Twitter @Vets360

 

Physical
Address
Veterans 360TM
1049 Camino Del Mar, Unit F.
Del Mar, CA. 92014 USA
Mailing
Address:
Veterans 360TM
3830 Valley Centre Drive #705-401
San Diego, CA 92130
Telephone: Office: 858.256.4006

 

Next episodes

10/27: Daniel Berry, Mark Borg, Jr., and Grant Brenner - The authors of the #1 Psychology New Release on Amazon: "Irrelationship: How we us Dysfunctional Relationships to Hide from Intimacy

11/3: Retired Fire Chief and Iron Man athlete, Matt Shobert - He's joining us to tell us about a freak accident that changed his life and career - A very intense story of survival and resiliency

11/10: Jeff Dill - Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance - tailored education for firefighters and mental health providers assisting them

11/17: Dr. Barton Goldsmith - Helping us all be less shy, more confident and self-assured