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Suicide: Our “Paradise Paradox”

Part III: Importance of follow up, a three part series

By Christine Osmundson

As a client stated, “Check on your family and friends—it’s the number one thing!”

It might surprise you that, in many cases, people who have struggled with suicidal ideation or have attempted suicide want you to talk to them. One person said to me, “My friends are asking me questions like how am I doing. I am opening up for the first time, and it helps to know that I am not alone.”

It’s not only important to check on someone when we see risks and warning signs—it’s equally important to follow-up after an attempt, suicidal ideation, release from the hospital, or losing someone to suicide.

Fifty-five percent of suicides occurred within a week of discharge from a hospital or mental health center, and 49 percent of these individuals died before their first follow-up appointment. It can’t be overstated that, follow-up is critical! It’s the best way to show your support as your loved one is working towards their recovery.

It’s not uncommon for people to experience loneliness and despair after their release. These feelings can pop up anywhere between 24 hours to several weeks later. It is during this time that people can feel vulnerable and possibly make a new attempt. As a client reported, “Now that I am fine, I feel like no one cares and won’t take the time to spend with me. I wish they would.”

It is of utmost importance to reach out and spend time with someone working on their recovery. Ask them how they are feeling and, if they have made an appointment for continued care. It’s okay to ask how their appointment went and how you can help.

Statistically 70 percent of people do not attend appointments made for them at the hospital or make follow-up appointments after an attempt. Once a person is a no-show to an appointment made from the hospital to a provider, a series of steps are usually taken. First, the provider can either reach out to that person, or conduct a welfare check through the police. You can also contact the police, directly, to request a welfare check.

It’s up to you to figure out how to best check on family and friends to support their recovery. Just remember that you can’t make a person suicidal by showing that you care!

If you find yourself, a friend or loved one in a crisis, you can reach out to the 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-844-493-8255 or text the word TALK to 38255. Otherwise call 911 and/or proceed to your nearest emergency room. If you are unable to locate someone in a crisis, contact the local police department for a welfare check. Additionally, if you suspect weapons may be involved, please do not attempt to disarm them. Instead, call the police at (970) 349-5231 or the Mt. Crested Butte Police at (970) 349-6516.

Christine Osmundson is the interim executive director of CB Hope and a licensed mental health therapist in practice for more than 20 years. She has a private practice in town. For services she may be reached at (303) 917-4207; her website is www.christineosmundsonlpc.com.

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