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Stigma and suicide-let’s get talking!

Posted on September 10, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

candelAn Interview with Clinical Psychologist Dr Eve Klopper     World suicide prevention day- September 10 2013

Q: The theme for World Suicide Prevention Day in 2013 is “Stigma: A major barrier to suicide prevention.”  How does the stigma associated with suicide impede suicide prevention?

A: Unfortunately, many people are uncomfortable discussing or directly considering issues surrounding suicide.  This limits awareness of risk factors or “red flags” that someone may be suicidal, and can make people who are suicidal less likely to seek help.  Feeling rejected and isolated can increase the risk that a person who has previously attempted suicide will make another suicide attempt.  Social stigma can also isolate those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Q: So how can we respond to this?

A: Key steps to reducing stigma include understanding why people attempt or commit suicide; being able to identify risk factors and warning signs and knowing how to respond; knowing how to respond to someone who has attempted suicide and knowing how to support those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

Q: Why do people attempt or commit suicide?

A: Suicide is sometimes seen as the “only way out” of unbearable psychological or physical pain.  This can include people experiencing severe mental illness, such as clinical depression or schizophrenia, or intense mental anguish, for example loss, shame or guilt, people facing extremely difficult life events, as well as those undergoing chronic or terminal physical illnesses.  Some other reasons for suicide include attempting to benefit others, expressing ambivalence about continuing to live, attempting to “send a message” or achieve an outcome by one’s death, or exercising control over the timing or manner of one’s death.

Q: What are risk factors and warning signs we should be aware of?

A: While some suicides are impulsive actions with no warning, others are planned carefully.  People feeling suicidal may or may not express their feelings to other people.  Factors which put a person at greater risk of considering suicide include having mental health difficulties, alcohol and substance abuse, being male, being isolated geographically or socially, experiencing financial stress or family violence or bereavement, and having attempted suicide previously or having a family history of suicide.  Warning signs that a person may be contemplating suicide include expressing the intention to harm or kill themself or saying goodbye to family and friends; preoccupation with death or dying; expressing strong feelings of hopelessness, of the pointlessness of living, of feeling trapped or of anger and revenge; withdrawal from other people; increased alcohol or substance use; undertaking reckless, risky or self-harming behaviours; dramatic mood changes, including suddenly changing from long-term depression to happiness; and extreme anxiety or agitation.  It is also important to be aware of the kinds of events which may “trigger” a person to commit suicide.  These include traumatic life events, relationship breakdown, job loss, diagnosis or recurrence of severe physical or mental illness, major change in life circumstances, financial or legal stress, and the death or suicide of a loved one or public figure.

Q: What can we do if we suspect someone is suicidal?

A: If you observe warning signs in someone you know, it is important to remain calm but act immediately.  Ask the person if they are feeling suicidal, whether they have made a plan to kill themselves and whether they have the means to carry out that plan.  Contrary to popular belief, talking calmly with someone in this way will not increase the chance of them carrying through with a suicide plan.  If the person has a clear plan and intends to carry it out imminently, call 000 or a health professional who can see the person immediately, or take the person to hospital.  Do not leave the person alone.  If the person is at lower risk of suicide, talk with them about their suicidal thoughts and help them to plan how they will stay safe, including assisting them to find appropriate support services.  Acknowledge their feelings but express your hope that, with help, they will be able to cope.

Q: How do we respond to someone who has attempted suicide?

A:  While it is normal to feel a range of emotions including shock, guilt and anger when a loved one has attempted suicide, providing acceptance, care and support can help them to recover and reduce the risk they will attempt suicide again.  Practical support includes encouragement to attend appropriate medical and psychological help, making sure the person cannot access means to attempt suicide again, if possible, preventing access to alcohol or drugs and assisting the person to manage re-building their lives, for example returning to work or school.  Providing such support can be psychologically tiring, so access help wherever possible.

Q: How does suicide affect loved ones, and how do we help those bereaved by suicide?

A:  Bereavement following suicide is usually intense and complex, including feelings of shock, disbelief, anger, guilt, sadness and shame.  Loved ones may have many “unanswered questions” and may also be experiencing trauma from discovering the deceased.  The most important thing we can all do to help is to express support and demonstrate our care.  We may feel awkward but it essential to say (or write) something to show our love and concern.  Let the bereaved person talk – when they are ready – and listen supportively.  Try to understand how they are feeling and allow them to grieve in their own way.  Be patient – understand that it may take years for the person to work out how to live with their loss.  Don’t avoid talking about the person who has died, but don’t press for details or make judgments – it is important to honour and accept both the person who has died and those left bereaved.  Offer practical support.  With children and teenagers, answer questions honestly and take their concerns seriously.  And remember – it is never too late to approach someone bereaved by suicide in the past and say “I didn’t know what to say to show you that I cared, and I’m sorry.  How are you going now?”

Q: What part can psychologists play?

A:  Psychologists can assist people who are feeling suicidal, and those who have attempted suicide, to address the causes of their pain and distress and to build their coping skills.  This includes providing treatment for mental illness, often in consultation with GPs or other doctors; providing coping strategies to manage life stressors or psychological or physical pain; and helping people to build relationships and social support networks.  Psychologists can also help those who have been bereaved by suicide to cope with grief and other emotional reactions, to build social support networks and to rebuild their lives.

Q: What should a reader do if they are feeling suicidal?

A: Please don’t suffer alone – help is available to you.  Tell someone you trust how you feel, or call one of the free, confidential counseling lines listed below.  If possible, stay with someone supportive.  Seek help from your doctor, a psychologist or another health professional.  Avoid drugs and alcohol, try to exercise and eat healthily.  You may find it helpful to write down your thoughts and feelings.  And if you need immediate, urgent help, call 000 or ask someone to take you to a hospital emergency department.

Q: Where can people get more information?

A: Confidential, 24/7 support is available at Lifeline: 13 11 14; Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800; Mensline Australia: 1300 78 99 78 and the Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467.

Useful information and further resources: www.wspd.org.au; www.livingisforeveryone.com.au; www.beyondblue.org.au

 

 

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Stigma and suicide-let's get talking!

Posted on September 10, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

candelAn Interview with Clinical Psychologist Dr Eve Klopper     World suicide prevention day- September 10 2013

Q: The theme for World Suicide Prevention Day in 2013 is “Stigma: A major barrier to suicide prevention.”  How does the stigma associated with suicide impede suicide prevention?

A: Unfortunately, many people are uncomfortable discussing or directly considering issues surrounding suicide.  This limits awareness of risk factors or “red flags” that someone may be suicidal, and can make people who are suicidal less likely to seek help.  Feeling rejected and isolated can increase the risk that a person who has previously attempted suicide will make another suicide attempt.  Social stigma can also isolate those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Q: So how can we respond to this?

A: Key steps to reducing stigma include understanding why people attempt or commit suicide; being able to identify risk factors and warning signs and knowing how to respond; knowing how to respond to someone who has attempted suicide and knowing how to support those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

Q: Why do people attempt or commit suicide?

A: Suicide is sometimes seen as the “only way out” of unbearable psychological or physical pain.  This can include people experiencing severe mental illness, such as clinical depression or schizophrenia, or intense mental anguish, for example loss, shame or guilt, people facing extremely difficult life events, as well as those undergoing chronic or terminal physical illnesses.  Some other reasons for suicide include attempting to benefit others, expressing ambivalence about continuing to live, attempting to “send a message” or achieve an outcome by one’s death, or exercising control over the timing or manner of one’s death.

Q: What are risk factors and warning signs we should be aware of?

A: While some suicides are impulsive actions with no warning, others are planned carefully.  People feeling suicidal may or may not express their feelings to other people.  Factors which put a person at greater risk of considering suicide include having mental health difficulties, alcohol and substance abuse, being male, being isolated geographically or socially, experiencing financial stress or family violence or bereavement, and having attempted suicide previously or having a family history of suicide.  Warning signs that a person may be contemplating suicide include expressing the intention to harm or kill themself or saying goodbye to family and friends; preoccupation with death or dying; expressing strong feelings of hopelessness, of the pointlessness of living, of feeling trapped or of anger and revenge; withdrawal from other people; increased alcohol or substance use; undertaking reckless, risky or self-harming behaviours; dramatic mood changes, including suddenly changing from long-term depression to happiness; and extreme anxiety or agitation.  It is also important to be aware of the kinds of events which may “trigger” a person to commit suicide.  These include traumatic life events, relationship breakdown, job loss, diagnosis or recurrence of severe physical or mental illness, major change in life circumstances, financial or legal stress, and the death or suicide of a loved one or public figure.

Q: What can we do if we suspect someone is suicidal?

A: If you observe warning signs in someone you know, it is important to remain calm but act immediately.  Ask the person if they are feeling suicidal, whether they have made a plan to kill themselves and whether they have the means to carry out that plan.  Contrary to popular belief, talking calmly with someone in this way will not increase the chance of them carrying through with a suicide plan.  If the person has a clear plan and intends to carry it out imminently, call 000 or a health professional who can see the person immediately, or take the person to hospital.  Do not leave the person alone.  If the person is at lower risk of suicide, talk with them about their suicidal thoughts and help them to plan how they will stay safe, including assisting them to find appropriate support services.  Acknowledge their feelings but express your hope that, with help, they will be able to cope.

Q: How do we respond to someone who has attempted suicide?

A:  While it is normal to feel a range of emotions including shock, guilt and anger when a loved one has attempted suicide, providing acceptance, care and support can help them to recover and reduce the risk they will attempt suicide again.  Practical support includes encouragement to attend appropriate medical and psychological help, making sure the person cannot access means to attempt suicide again, if possible, preventing access to alcohol or drugs and assisting the person to manage re-building their lives, for example returning to work or school.  Providing such support can be psychologically tiring, so access help wherever possible.

Q: How does suicide affect loved ones, and how do we help those bereaved by suicide?

A:  Bereavement following suicide is usually intense and complex, including feelings of shock, disbelief, anger, guilt, sadness and shame.  Loved ones may have many “unanswered questions” and may also be experiencing trauma from discovering the deceased.  The most important thing we can all do to help is to express support and demonstrate our care.  We may feel awkward but it essential to say (or write) something to show our love and concern.  Let the bereaved person talk – when they are ready – and listen supportively.  Try to understand how they are feeling and allow them to grieve in their own way.  Be patient – understand that it may take years for the person to work out how to live with their loss.  Don’t avoid talking about the person who has died, but don’t press for details or make judgments – it is important to honour and accept both the person who has died and those left bereaved.  Offer practical support.  With children and teenagers, answer questions honestly and take their concerns seriously.  And remember – it is never too late to approach someone bereaved by suicide in the past and say “I didn’t know what to say to show you that I cared, and I’m sorry.  How are you going now?”

Q: What part can psychologists play?

A:  Psychologists can assist people who are feeling suicidal, and those who have attempted suicide, to address the causes of their pain and distress and to build their coping skills.  This includes providing treatment for mental illness, often in consultation with GPs or other doctors; providing coping strategies to manage life stressors or psychological or physical pain; and helping people to build relationships and social support networks.  Psychologists can also help those who have been bereaved by suicide to cope with grief and other emotional reactions, to build social support networks and to rebuild their lives.

Q: What should a reader do if they are feeling suicidal?

A: Please don’t suffer alone – help is available to you.  Tell someone you trust how you feel, or call one of the free, confidential counseling lines listed below.  If possible, stay with someone supportive.  Seek help from your doctor, a psychologist or another health professional.  Avoid drugs and alcohol, try to exercise and eat healthily.  You may find it helpful to write down your thoughts and feelings.  And if you need immediate, urgent help, call 000 or ask someone to take you to a hospital emergency department.

Q: Where can people get more information?

A: Confidential, 24/7 support is available at Lifeline: 13 11 14; Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800; Mensline Australia: 1300 78 99 78 and the Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467.

Useful information and further resources: www.wspd.org.au; www.livingisforeveryone.com.au; www.beyondblue.org.au

 

 

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Work Stress

Posted on September 6, 2013 in Mental Health Topics - 0

Workplace bullying

Workplace Bullying Awareness Month-June 2013.

Clinical Psychologist Helen Perry shares her story. Matthew* a 37 year old project manager sits across from me, sleep deprived, anxious and jobless- a broken man.

The Working Mother

Juggling Act

By Psychologist Kylie Layton

Today it seems that parents and particularly mothers are expected to be super heroes, their superpower is multi-tasking. The question is what is a working mother’s kryptonite and how do we sustain the juggling act?

The decision to go back to work after having a baby can be a difficult one for many women, provoking a complex web of emotions, from liberation and pleasure to guilt and anxiety.

Case Study

The stress of modern technology

Gerard, a sales executive in an international IT company, first came to Psychology Consultants because he felt stressed. After discussing his current situation, we quickly became perplexed. He had a good relationship with his wife, a busy, fulfilling job, he exercised regularly, found time for hobbies on the weekends, and his diet was impeccable. Why was he stressed?

Employees

Assisting employees through programs

By Dr Stan Steindl, BA PGDipPsych MClinPsych PhD(Clin) MAPS

In any one year, one in four Australians experience psychological symptoms that would meet criteria for clinical diagnosis.

Redundancy

Stages experienced by employees facing redundancy Change is a central issue for all organisations today. And sometimes the difficult decision to “let people go” has to be made.

Coaching at Work

Enhancing Your Work and Personal Performance

By Dr Stan Steindl, BA PGDipPsych MClinPsych PhD(Clin) MAPS
People in business often refer to work difficulties:

“How can I get through to my staff?”
“What should I do when staff don’t get along?”
“Are the ideas I’m having worth pursuing?”
“How do I plan ahead for my business?”

Case Study

Major mental illness in the workplace

Jacob is 37 years old. He has worked for the public sector for 12 years and performs his tasks well. He is quiet at work, but is pleasant and unassuming. He lives with his wife in a rented house and has one daughter who is 8 years old. The family usually walks their dog before Jacob goes to work of a morning. On the weekend they enjoy indoor bowling. Jacob has a bookshelf full of bowling trophies.

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Stress and Trauma

Posted on September 6, 2013 in Mental Health Topics - 0

Stress and Trauma

Trauma

Life-shattering events: The debriefing debate

Recent debate over the effectiveness of psychological debriefing following trauma has sparked some interesting opinions, discusses Dr Stan Steindl, director of Psychology Consultants.

Trauma

Responding to people’s trauma

Trauma regularly touches our community. Events like car accidents, assaults, hold ups, and natural and man made disasters seem to happen all too often. Experiencing a traumatic event can have a marked impact on people’s lives.

Case Study

A case of complex posttraumatic stress disorder

Probably one of the more challenging cases a psychologist can face is treating “complex posttraumatic stress disorder”. This usually involves clients who have an already established, yet often unidentified, personality disorder when they face a traumatic event.

Anger

Managing Anger

by Dr Stan Steindl, BA PGDipPsych MClinPsych PhD(Clin) MAPS Simon is a 45 year-old happily married man with two daughters. A litigation lawyer, he seems successful and has many friends.

Bullying

Beat Bullying

Teasing, threats, verbal abuse, harassment, hitting or pushing. Research suggests one in six children are bullied at least once a week. Here are some facts and hints to help beat the bullying.

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Sleep

Posted on September 6, 2013 in Mental Health Topics - 0

Sleep

Insomnia case study

Can’t Sleep?

by Kathryn Smith, BA GradDipPsychEd MPsych(Clin) MAPS
Everyone likes to have a good night’s sleep, but not everyone sleeps well all the time. John is 43 and divorced from his wife five years ago. He came to Psychology Consultants indicating he had been chronically unable to fall and stay asleep since he divorced his wife.

Sleep advice

What can I do to get to sleep?

By Dr Stan Steindl BA PGDipPsych MClinPsych PhD(Clin) MAPS.This is one of the questions we are most frequently asked. Irrespective of a client’s other problems, sleeping difficulties are usually also present, either as a part of their primary condition or as a disorder in its own right.

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Relationships

Posted on September 6, 2013 in Mental Health Topics - 0

Separation and Divorce

Kids Needs after parental separation

Psychologists can provide practical advice to parents going through separation. Recent research published in the APS’s latest InPsych magazine indicates that the reactions of children and adolescents to their parents’ separation differ with age and is thought to be due to cognitive maturity, as older children may be more capable of understanding the reasons behind a marital separation than younger children.

Happiness

Want a long and happy relationship?

Research indicates that marital satisfaction decreases within the first two to three years of marriage.

Feelings

Improving Couple’s hurt feelings

Psychology Consultants’ Dr Jennifer Fitzgerald has completed her Clinical PhD in the area of relationship therapy, particularly couples and family relationships.

Case Study

Marriage difficulties affect work

John worked as a warehouse manager for 17 years. His supervisor noticed that John wasn’t himself when he asked for some time off to deal with some “problems at home”. As a part of their Employee Assistance Program, John’s supervisor referred him to Psychology Consultants.

A Case Study

Parent-Child Relationships

Relationship problems can often be the cause of other emotional and behavioural problems.

Family Relations

Tips to becoming a Step-Family

Statistics indicate that around a third of all families include step children. Consequently, there is a growing need for support to help step families create a positive experience for all family members. Following are some tips. You may also find the book Step-Parent Survival Guide by Leila Henderson a useful resource.

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Medicare

Posted on September 6, 2013 in Mental Health Topics - 0

Medicare Rebates

Medicare Referrals and Rebates

It is common for misunderstandings to occur regarding the Medicare requirements for a client to claim the rebate for their session with a Psychologist.

To help our valued clients and GP’s who refer to us we have outlined these requirements below so you can ensure these have been met prior to your session.

Medicare Review

Better Access to Mental Health

Despite speculation, the Federal Government did not amend the Better Access to Mental Health the recent Federal Budget, but it is reviewing the expenditure on mental health. Director of Psychology Consultants and clinical psychologist Kathryn Smith said the review is necessary to ensure the program is working effectively.

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Health and Well-being

Posted on September 6, 2013 in Mental Health Topics - 0

Irritable Bowel Syndome

IBS: There is hope for those suffering from this often debilitating condition.

Matt Evans, Clinical Psychologist, has worked for several years in a specialist gastroenterology outpatient clinic providing psychological support services for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS). Below he writes about what he has learned along the way.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Getting out of our heads: ACT and Defusion

By Clinical Psychologist Erika Fiorenza

There is a great scene in Finding Nemo where Nemo’s dad, Marlin, and his newly found friend, Dory, have been swallowed by a whale and are holding on for their lives.

Dory: “It’s time to let go! Everything is going to be alright”

Marlin: “How do you know? How you know something bad isn’t gonna to happen?”

Dory: “I don’t!”

Compassion and Motivational Interviewing

Having you heart in the right place

By Dr Stan Steindl


I recently presented at the International Symposium on Motivational Interviewing (ISMI) in Melbourne on the topic of Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Compassion.

Athletes

Assisting professional sports people

Psychology Consultants has experience in providing a range of player welfare and development programs to professional sports teams and individuals, which encompass a wide variety of services assisting players in all aspects of their lives.

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