PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Winter 2020 - 15

stigma, but also allows individuals to seek help, rethink their
opinions, and share their story with others."1

Safe sharing about suicide
The things we write or say about suicide can influence
the behavior of other people. We often focus on the
number of individuals who have died. Yet there are many
more individuals who have made plans to take their lives,
but instead, sought life-saving help. Sharing messages of
hope can motivate others to support a struggling peer or
encourage vulnerable individuals to seek professional help.
Incorrect sharing about a suicide can lead to Contagion
Suicide or "Copycat Suicide."2 Focusing on the method and
details of the death can have a negative effect on listeners.
ReportingonSuicide.org gives media recommendations on
how to safely share information after a suicide death. These
guidelines can also be helpful for any person who discusses
the death of an individual who died by suicide.

Risk factors for suicide
The online dictionary at PsychologyDictionary.org defines
a risk factor as: "Any behavioral, hereditary, environmental,
or other consideration which increases the likelihood of
developing a disease or disorder or becoming involved in
dangerous situations." [N., Pam M.S., "RISK FACTOR," in
PsychologyDictionary.org, April 28, 2013, bit.ly/psych-riskfactor (accessed December 4, 2019)].
Having a risk factor for suicide increases the likelihood of
someone dying by suicide. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention
and Control, Division of Violence Protection published a 60page technical package on preventing suicide. The in-depth
document identifies risk factors on the individual level,
relationship level, community level, and societal level.3 This
resource also lists protective factors in each of those areas.
For those looking for basic information on the risk factors for
suicide, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (sprc.org)
offers printable fact sheets on Suicide Risk and Protective
Factors.4 The SPRC is a federally-supported resource
center which provides information to improve the public's
understanding of suicide and provide available community,
state, and national resources.

The warning signs
A risk factor for suicide is not the same as a warning sign.
SPRC provides a fact sheet classifying the warning signs for
suicide into immediate risk and serious risk categories.5 A
list of the warning signs of suicide is located on the next
page. It is important to know the warning signs that indicate
that someone may be thinking about ending their life.
Recognizing those signs motivates us to take the appropriate
actions to help someone who may be planning to end
their life.
continued on next page >

Podcast empowers veterinary
professionals and normalizes
asking for help
Feeling helpless about veterinary suicide? Vet Med After
Hours (VMAH) podcast co-hosts (veterinarian Tracy
Sands and practice manager Alec Failor) developed the
#vetyoumatter campaign so that all of us can do something
as we work to heal a broken profession.
VMAH's mission is to empower veterinary team members
and normalize conversations about mental health. Listen
and be inspired as they share the very real (and sometimes
raw) journeys of technicians, CCRs, veterinarians, website
developers and more.
Veterinary teams are superheroes
who think they have to do it all
or look weak. These superheroes
have to know they can ask for
help any time if we are going to
reduce the fatigue and burnout
that leads to suicide. Asking for
help can be to tackle a project,
to get home on time or to get
to a mental health professional. Looking to take the stigma
out of needing help, VMAH created the #vetyoumatter
design carrying the butterfly symbol of hope, veterinary
caduceus and a paw print suicide
awareness semi-colon along with
the words "YOU MATTER". Bring
the design to your clinic and start
talking to your team. Fight the
stigma - visit VetMedAfterHours.
com for #vetyoumatter wristbands
and more. #vetyoumatter suicide
prevention hotline stickers belong
on drug safes, bathroom mirrors
and in breakrooms where a simple
sticker could literally save a life.
You already save pets' lives, now
save your teammates too.
As VMAH reminds us You Matter - Ask For Help.
Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association | 15


http://www.ReportingonSuicide.org http://www.PsychologyDictionary.org http://www.PsychologyDictionary.org http://www.bit.ly/psych-risk-factor http://www.bit.ly/psych-risk-factor http://www.sprc.org

PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Winter 2020

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