Suicide Prevention Day event set

The Inter-Mountain photo by Sarah Goodrich Donetta McVicker, program director for Senior Life Solutions, shows support by placing her painted hand on the suicide prevention banner. Senior Life Solutions’ theme for Monday’s suicide prevention event was entitled ‘Give me a hand in preventing suicide.’

PHILIPPI — With suicide being defined as the 10th leading cause of death in the Unites States, a number of organizations and individuals paused Monday in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day.

Among the many that participated, a public event sponsored by Senior Life Solutions was held at Broaddus Hospital, featuring educational materials and a special helping hands banner created by participants.

Donetta McVicker, program director for Senior Life Solutions, explained geriatric men ages 65 and older are the highest population that commit suicide, and noted suicide is the second-leading cause of death in geriatric individuals.

“When you think about it, depression can be brought on by so many things. You don’t have to have a clinical, mental health condition documented,” she said. “You can just be experiencing maybe a chronic pain issue or chronic illness or maybe a loss of a spouse.”

McVicker said at that age many individuals are losing their spouses and sometimes they don’t have anyone to reach out to for support.

“So they’re losing a lot of their support system at that age,” she said. “And they kind of at that age feel like their life is already over, and that’s the kind of mentality that they have and that’s what we want to break. We want to break that stigma or that thought process that there’s nothing else out there because they can learn new activities or make new friendships to continue throughout their life.”

Locally, McVicker said there is a large population of individuals who experience chronic worry, depression, grief and loss.

Through Senior Life Solutions, a geriatric intensive outpatient counseling program, patients are part of group therapy, which not only allows them to get support from professionals, but also individuals in the same age range.

“We’re actually multi-clinician based, so not only do we have a psychiatrist that sees the patients, but we have a masters-level therapist that sees the group three days a week,” McVicker explained.

With the therapist meeting with each patient daily, McVicker said patients receive the insight from a trained therapist, as well as the camaraderie and fellowship.

“A lot of them have a lot of things in common, so they get that socialization part that a lot of them, when they experience depression or anxiety issues, they tend to isolate themselves, so they’re kind of missing out on that socialization and that coping mechanism that we all have to reach out to someone and have a helping hand from someone,” she said.

As a registered nurse, McVicker said she checks patients’ daily vitals and meg checks.

“I also communicate with their primary doctors to kind of keep everything on track because, as we know, depression, anxiety, all those things are also tied into our physical health,” she said. “So our mental health affects that as well.”

After roughly three to six months in the program, McVicker explained patients are then tested before being released.

“We do three different tests for them on a geriatric depression scale and the anxiety scale,” she said. “We like to see their test scores improve before we let them (go) through.”

McVicker urges those who may be experiencing thoughts of suicide or have noticed a family member’s behavior has changed to reach out to someone — a friend, a neighbor, a professional — for support.