Archive for September, 2014


cheeseAlright, I am an admitted cheese hound…don’t believe I have met any cheese that I didn’t like but I always thought for long term storage that you either had to keep it refrigerated or as someone I know did on TV, you had to wax it for long term storage. OR you had to buy the freeze dried stuff at something close to a mortgage payment. Imagine this…you can CAN any cheese (water bath or pressure) or dehydrate it as I did previously with cottage cheese. And do so safely! Ssshhh! Don’t tell the food police I said that!

Dehydration:
Pretty straight forward…I love cheddar cheese but this will work with ANY type of cheese.
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Place your chosen cheese on a fruit leather tray thinly and dehydrate at 125 degrees until crunchy and vacuum seal!

There is a catch however. If you use regular cheese you will have to deal with the ‘fat’ that comes out of it. Originally I thought I would get smart and well, put paper towel under it while dehydrating but when I checked it half way through some had ‘melted’ to it. So don’t that at home folks…instead, dehydrate and after doing so place on a towel and pat the oil off and then vacuum seal! Each pouch contains approximately 1 lb of shredded cheddar cheese. Great crunchy snack by the way!
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Next, I got squirrelly and tried canning it. You can can any cheese! Quartz, pints or half pints…it up to you as is the method either water bath OR Pressure canner. It is recommended for best results as to texture, taste and color to use the water bath method and here is how you do it:

Just like canning anything you will want sterilized jars and lids…get your canning water going so that it is ready and the lids too.

You will then take your clean jars and place them into a pan or pot that is big enough to hold the empty jars. Next, fill the pot/pan with enough water to get the water level at least 1/3 of the way up the side of the jars.
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Turn on the heat and add small amounts of cheese (either shredded or cubed, I used shredded) to each jar, stirring occasionally as it melts. Add more cheese and allow to melt and so on until you have the jars full of melted cheese leaving ½ inch head space.
I used a clean butter/dinner knife to stir.
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Turn off the heat. Because most cheese is ‘greasy’ I used straight vinegar to clean the jar lips and ring area. Then add the lids and rings as you usually would. Finger tight and then place into the canner.

If you choose to use the water bath method as I did here are the processing times:
Start the time once it comes back to a boil.

Pints and half pints for 30 minutes
Quartz for 45 minutes

If you are using a pressure canner please remember to build up the pressure as normal and then bring to proper pressure then start your time:

Less than 1,000 feet in elevation:
Quartz: 10 minutes at 10 lbs pressure
Pints and half pints: 5 minutes at 10 lbs pressure

Over 1,000 feet in elevation:
Quartz: 10 minutes at 15 lbs pressure
Pints and half pints: 5 minutes at 15 lbs pressure.

Final product:
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As always, remember to carefully take out, place on a towel and cover to allow the processed jars to cool and seal properly. Once cool they will solidify again and presto! Real canned cheese!

Note: best to use wide mouth jars for ease of getting back out!

always faithful
survivingshtfmom

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ptsd1

It is very natural and normal to have stress reactions after a traumatic or very upsetting event. Your behavior and emotions will change immediately afterwards and most people get better or find a ‘new normal’ after a few weeks. This is called acute PTSD. However, not everyone ‘gets over it’. As I discussed in the previous article PTSD, What is It? some people will have prolonged stress reactions to events and circumstances, most especially those that are more indicative of producing chronic PTSD. It is a real identifiable brain disorder (see picture).

ptsd2

Trauma causes REAL changes in the brain which can produce profound behavioral, emotional and physical symptoms. Please keep in mind as you read, the key to recognizing symptoms of PTSD is this: if it wasn’t there before a traumatic event happened and then appears, then there is a problem. If it was there before the traumatic event, then it most likely is not related to PTSD.

PTSD is generally diagnosed through presentation of 4 major types of symptoms that last longer than 3 months, cause you significant distress and disrupt your life and/or work.

Intrusion of the event into your life afterwards.
Recurrent recollections of the event. Memories coming back without warning with or without a ‘trigger’ (which I will discuss later)
Nightmares
Flashbacks/Reliving
These can make someone feel as though they are reliving the event in that MOMENT and can cause mental, emotional and physical symptoms. Some individuals with PTSD may experience and feel the same fears and horror as when the event took place.

Hyper Arousal/Feeling Keyed Up
Constantly on guard
Jittery/Jumpy
On Alert
Can’t relax
Can’t sleep

Numbing or Negative Changes in Beliefs and Feelings
Distancing self from people/Can’t trust other people
Unable to feel emotions
Forgetting about parts (suppression) or all of the traumatic experience
Not able to talk about the event
World becomes extremely dangerous
Depression/Anger/Irritability/Impending sense of doom

Avoidance:
Fear based and avoidance behavior typically involve all three of the above symptoms in order to avoid having to deal with the original trauma or prevent the above symptoms from occurring. Avoidance behavior is also another way of dealing with ‘triggers’. Often, people with PTSD will avoid people, places and things that remind them of the original trauma. Some people will get ‘super busy’ as way to avoid dealing with trauma.
Avoiding crowds
Avoiding driving
Avoiding all sorts of media (movie, news, video games)
Avoiding activities that are or could be associated with the trauma (ie an avid hunter may stop hunting to avoid particular triggers).

So this is the clinical take on what constitutes PTSD. But what can it really look like in someone’s life? It will vary from person to person obviously as everyone has different backgrounds, religious beliefs, personalities and different experiences in life. So lets look, in layman’s terms, what someone with PTSD may experience.

Panic Attacks or other anxiety problems including hypersensitivity to his/her surroundings….this is experience of INTENSE fear which most often is accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness and racing heart. At the very least, discomfort may occur. This is almost directly related to hyper vigilance and may be ‘triggered’ by something totally unrelated to what is happening in that very moment.

Feelings of mistrust (could be specific or not)

Problems in daily living: not being able to function ‘normally’ at work, home and within relationships. This can include a decline in personal hygiene (or obsessiveness with it). Stopping doing daily household chores, organizational problems, etc. Emotional distancing of themselves towards other people, places and things in order to cope with feeling ‘unsafe’. This can come across as being cold, aloof, uncaring, demanding or otherwise socially unacceptable behaviors.

Substance Abuse: using drugs or alcohol to cope with emotional pain

Depression/Mood Swings: persistent sadness, anxiety, emptiness, loss of interest, guilt, shame, hopelessness about the future. Going from being happy to angry and back again for no real apparent reason. Isolating themselves. May become aggressive and angry for ‘no good reason’.

Memory problems are almost always present. Usually this shows up at first as ‘absent mindedness’ such as constantly misplacing things or loosing things. It can progress into forgetting names, appointments and other day to day things. Later on, someone with PTSD may even begin to forget past events that were important to them, or forget what they were saying in the middle of a sentence and may even say something and then repeat themselves a few minutes later.

Risk Taking Behavior such as driving too fast, multiple sex partners, starting fights and other behaviors that typically would be considered ‘risky’ with the potential to do harm to themselves or others.

Isolating from the world…many people with PTSD will in an effort to keep themselves safe begin to withdraw from people to the point that they may turn into ‘recluses’ who only go out when food or medicine is needed.

Obsessive/Compulsive Behaviors: check and rechecking that a door is locked, driving around and around in a parking lot, running to the doctor every time they sneeze. The point in obsessive/compulsive behavior to keep themselves ‘safe’ to prevent further trauma.

Super sensitivity to outside stimulation: this is directly related ‘triggers’. When the original traumatic event occurs, the brain basically ‘burns’ into the deepest part of the memories and cortex exactly what happened, how it happened and circumstances in which it occurred.

Checklist of PTSD symptoms:

Physical Symptoms:
Headaches
Stomach problems
Changes in breathing patterns (shortness of breath/not breathing normally)
Lack of energy OR Hyper Activity
Sleep problems
Emotional pain never felt before
Anxiety problems
Hypersensitivity
Hyper vigilance

Psychological Problems:
Mood swings
Memory problems
Addiction/Self Medication
Loss of personal hygiene/housekeeping
Risk taking behavior
Isolation
Depression (“what’s the point?”)
Paranoid thoughts
Reliving the event(s) with accompanying emotions

Sleep Problems:
Insomnia (not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep)
Having nightmares
Waking up covered in sweat
Kicking during sleep
Constantly waking up and falling back asleep
Waking up and being easily startled and/or being confused about where you are
Irregular sleep cycles

It is my hope that you have found this information helpful in describing what PTSD ‘looks’ like symptomatically. Too often many seek help and a diagnosis of PTSD is not given because the full spectrum of what PTSD looks like isn’t known by many doctors and mental health professionals. Do not be afraid to print this off and take it with you if you choose to seek help (which I hope you will) so that you maybe appropriately helped and treated. PTSD is multi-faceted and can be difficult to diagnosis unless you and those around you know the facts about what it is and what it looks like. But it is treatable and can be overcome. There is hope.

In part 3 of this series on PTSD I will discuss ‘triggers’ which plays an important role in PTSD.

Survivingshtfmom

cottage cheeseConventional ‘food wisdom’ (ie the food police known as the USDA and FDA) ‘says’ you can’t dehydrate cottage cheese. Well, yes you CAN!!
Cottage Cheese…alright, that either makes you cringe or makes you happy. It is a versatile ‘cheese’ that can be eaten on its own or used/substituted in great recipes. But here is the GREAT question…did you know you can dehydrate it for long term storage? Yes, you read that correctly, you can SAFELY dehydrate it. No need for the expensive ‘freeze dried’ #10 can stuff that once opened will stick together within a week. Do it YOURSELF! I did and so can you and here is how:

Taken indirectly from the pages of Food Storage: Preserving Meat, Dairy, and Eggs by Susan Gregersen and David Armstrong

Get your cottage cheese from the local store. Any type will do but the no fat works best for fast dehydration. Fat included cottage cheese takes longer to dry and you will have to turn it over to complete the drying process. Non-fat dries rather quickly.

Spread on fruit leather sheets as thinly as possible. Mine is spread to about ¼ inch thick. Put the dehydrator on 125 and walk away for about 8 to 12 hrs before checking. You may need to turn it. I did not have to do so since I used no fat cottage cheese.

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When dry (and time will depend upon your dehydrator and weather conditions) allow to sit and cool for about an hour.

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Vacuum seal or put into jars with O2 absorbers. Will last AT LEAST one year if not longer depending upon storage conditions.

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To rehydrate: pour about twice as much boiling water (by volume) to dehydrated cottage cheese and let it sit. Stir every two or three minutes for about 15 minutes. Trick is the longer you let it ‘sit’ re-hydrating the more like ‘real’ or ‘fresh’ cottage cheese it will be. It can be eaten this way or used in cooking.

I have not at this point in time dehydrated this but I have eaten it (chewed) dehydrated and I will tell you…YUM!

So go ahead and give it a try, it might be a treat on the trail or something good for future use. It will store well and is very cost effective.

survivingshtfmom

essential oilTypically I do not like to post ‘just a link’ but in this case, I feel so strongly about the subject that I will. I have always maintained that just because you are paying top dollar for an essential oil that you are not necessarily getting the best and the proof is in the pudding!

In no way am I detracting from any of the brands mentioned nor trying to slander any brand, but this is an eye opener that everyone who loves and uses essential oils needs to know about. And in fact, I buy from some of these companies (mostly herbs since I buy the bulk of my essential oils from Liberty Natural). Some of the companies mentioned, I know them personally! This is just something to consider when making your purchase of essential oils.

Full article about 3rd Party Testing On doTerra, Young Living, Mountain Rose Herbs, Nature’s Gift, Now

PTSDPTSD…Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What is it? Technically it is an Anxiety Disorder. It is a complex response to extreme stress that is deemed life threatening by an individual that does not go away on its own over time. Some would have you believe that it is a psychiatric condition. But in reality, it is an adaptive response to keep someone (themselves or others or both) from harm and it may get worse overtime. This adaptive response stems from exposure to real or perceived life threatening situations that can be a one time event, series of events or on going events. Note that it doesn’t just have to be ‘events’ but also circumstances in which people can ‘see’ themselves in the same situation as the person who is actually going through the traumatic event or circumstances such as witnessing a murder or a grizzly car accident . This is an empathic response. There are those who witnessed the World Trade Center Towers come down who were not even there and displayed PTSD symptoms later on. People who know people who have been killed or seriously harmed or even just threatened have been known to develop PTSD. Almost ANY traumatic event can trigger high anxiety and what is traumatic to one person may not be to another. Each person is different and reacts differently to trauma/high stress situations and circumstances. PTSD can happen to anyone, children and adults alike. It cuts across all social, economic and racial lines.

The most common events that can trigger PTSD and put people at the highest risk of developing PTSD are those who have experienced combat exposure, domestic violence/abuse, rape/sexual assault, childhood neglect/abuse, physical attacks, being threatened with a weapon. However, car accidents, muggings, robbery, natural disasters, war/terrorism, prison stays, and accidents can also cause PTSD.

Other risk factors for developing PTSD include:
Living through dangerous and traumatic events
A history of mental health issues/problems (depression, anxiety)
Drug/alcohol abuse
Family history of anxiety conditions
Sleep disorders
Getting hurt
Seeing other get hurt or killed
Feelings of horror, helplessness or extreme fear.
Having little or no social support after the event(s)
Dealing with more stress after the event(s) such as loss of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce, etc.
Frontal Head Injuries
Those who are diagnosed with a life threatening illness or who have had major medical procedures.
Being a first responder
Being a combat veteran
Learning of an unexpected death of a loved one or close friend

Facts:

One month after 9/11 approximately 7.5% of New York City’s population reported symptoms of PTSD. 6 months later it had fallen to .6%.

Approximately 5.6 million to 7.7 million people in this country have symptoms of PTSD during the course of a given year. (about 3.6 to 5% of the population)

It is estimated that 6-30% or more of trauma survivors develop PTSD with children and young people at the highest risk.

Women (10.4%) are twice as likely as men (5%) to develop PTSD.

It is estimated that at least 7.8% of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.

Approximately 30% of men and women who have spent time in war zones experience PTSD

An additional 20-25% of our Veterans have had partial PTSD.

More than half of all male Vietnam veterans and almost half of all female Vietnam veterans have experienced “clinically serious stress reactions”.

Estimates of PTSD from the Gulf War in Veterans are about 10%

Estimates of PTSD from the war in Afghanistan in Veterans are between 6 and 11%

Current estimates of PTSD in military personnel who served in Iraq range from 12-20%

When in danger, it is absolutely normal to feel afraid. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or prepare to avoid it. This is called the ‘fight or flight’ response. Hormones and other chemicals flood the body. With PTSD, something changes within the brain and researchers are not quite sure exactly what it is that changes. Current research is looking at genetics, Stathin (a protein), GRP (gastrin-releasing peptide) and a version of 5-HTTLPR gene which controls the release and levels of serotonin. These three chemicals play major roles in the fear response and fear memory making. Scientists are also looking further into the role of the amygdale which is active in fear acquisition and plays a role in overcoming fear. They are also looking into the PFC (prefrontal cortex) which stores extinction memories (how you over come a fear) and is responsible for dampening the original fear response. It is believed that individual differences with the brain can predispose someone for developing PTSD, but no one knows for sure what ‘causes’ PTSD. Personally, I believe that it is a mix of biological, societal and individual coping mechanisms. Risk factors are just that…risk factors, not a sure bet.

PTSD is not some off the wall cop out, it is not as those in the medical and therapy world would have you believe a ‘mental illness’. It is not a disease and it doesn’t make you ‘crazy’ nor does it make those who have it incompetent in anyway and it is most certainly not a death sentence when properly dealt with. Those who suffer with PTSD are survivors of horrific and life threatening situations, circumstances and events. PTSD is a natural survival response that can be triggered within all of us given the right set of circumstances. All human beings have with them the will to survive. PTSD is merely a reflection of that will to survive that unfortunately becomes prolonged or ingrained into a person for an extended period of time. It is a serious issue because it can become debilitating and problematic to the individual experiencing the prolonged fight or flight response. It can be misunderstood and disruptive in their relationships with friends, family, co-workers and bosses. What was once a protective mechanism becomes a problem when it will not shut off. It simply human to experience fear and to try and avoid or fight a threatening problem or circumstance and those with PTSD should be looked upon as survivors who need help in returning to a state of balance within themselves.

Survivingshtfmom

Links:
http://www.ptsd.ne.gov/what-is-ptsd.html
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20022540
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

depressionI am going to lead with both feet here…I am a survivor of suicide. By that I mean, someone very close to me, in fact several people I had the pleasure of knowing for only too short of a time, have committed suicide. On the surface, they seemed like normal, everyday people who had no ‘good’ reason to kill themselves and appeared to be very strong, capable people. You would never in a million years, have thought that they would commit suicide. But they did. I write this article during September, which is Suicide Prevention Month, in their honor and hope that someone reading this article may be able to step in and help prevent someone from committing suicide and maybe, just maybe, give someone hope in the face of the yawning blackness.

For immediate assistance for you or someone else there is a national hotline number:
1-800-273 TALK (8255)
Vet2Vet Talk Line 1-855-838-7481

If you don’t wish to talk to someone unknown, then please call a friend or family member to talk.

Suicide is not an act of cowardice nor an act of selfishness. It is not directed at any individual or person in the life of the person who is contemplating or has committed suicide. It is not personal. It is an act of desperation borne out of hopelessness that someone feels is insurmountable. The best way I have seen and heard it put is that someone contemplating suicide is in a deep, tarry pit of blackness with no light.

It is a fact that 90% of people who, at the time they commit or attempt to commit suicide have a diagnosable and TREATABLE mental health issues.

Risk factors include:

Biggest risk factor is clinical depression
Undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues
Family history of suicide
Knowing someone (close) who has committed suicide
Family history of child neglect/abuse
History of abuse (domestic, sexual assaults)
History of brain injury
History of traumatic experiences
Previous suicide attempt(s)
History of alcohol and substance abuse
Feelings of hopelessness
Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)
Physical illness
Easy access to lethal methods
Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or to suicidal thoughts
Suicidal ideation

Risk factors do not indicate that someone will commit suicide, just that their chances of committing suicide increase.

Prevention and intervention become key.

There are twice as many suicides in the US than homicides. For everyone person who completes suicide, approximately another 12 attempt suicide. WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that approximately 1 million people around the world commit suicide yearly. Many who attempt suicide never receive any help.

Know the warning signs. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize the warning signs and how to respond if you spot them. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing that you care and are there to listen to them without judgment, and getting a doctor or psychologist involved, if they are willing.

In my own time of answering a hotline the biggest help I was able to give someone was just listening to them. Not providing answers unless directly asked nor arguing with them about how they felt. Learning how to listen without taking charge or downplaying someone’s feelings is essential in helping.
The below has been taken directly from and more information can be found at : Help Guide

Major warning signs for suicide include talking about killing or harming oneself, talking or writing a lot about death or dying, and seeking out things that could be used in a suicide attempt, such as weapons and drugs. These signals are even more dangerous if the person has a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder, suffers from alcohol dependence, has previously attempted suicide, or has a family history of suicide.

Take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide—it’s a cry for help.

A more subtle but equally dangerous warning sign of suicide is hopelessness. Studies have found that hopelessness is a strong predictor of suicide. People who feel hopeless may talk about “unbearable” feelings, predict a bleak future, and state that they have nothing to look forward to.

Other warning signs that point to a suicidal mind frame include dramatic mood swings or sudden personality changes, such as going from outgoing to withdrawn or well-behaved to rebellious. A suicidal person may also lose interest in day-to-day activities, neglect his or her appearance, and show big changes in eating or sleeping habits.

Talking about suicide

Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…” and “I’d be better off dead.”

Seeking out lethal means Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

Preoccupation with death Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.

No hope for the future
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (“There’s no way out”). Belief that things will never get better or change.

Self-loathing, self-hatred Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“Everyone would be better off without me”).

Getting affairs in order Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.

Saying goodbye Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.

Withdrawing from others Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.

Self-destructive behavior
Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish.”

Sudden sense of calm A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to commit suicide.

Suicide prevention tip #1: Speak up if you’re worried

If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you care about, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to say anything. What if you’re wrong? What if the person gets angry? In such situations, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable or afraid. But anyone who talks about suicide or shows other warning signs needs immediate help—the sooner the better.

Talking to a person about suicide

Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt.

Ways to start a conversation about suicide:
• I have been feeling concerned about you lately.
• Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.
• I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.
Questions you can ask:
• When did you begin feeling like this?
• Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?
• How can I best support you right now?
• Have you thought about getting help?
What you can say that helps:
• You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.
• You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.
• I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.
• When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.

When talking to a suicidal person
Do:
• Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.
• Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.
• Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.
• Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.
• If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in their head, you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it’s OK for them to share their pain with you.

But don’t:

• Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Look on the bright side.”
• Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.
• Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.
• Do NOT Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.
• Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.

Adapted from: Metanoia.org

Suicide prevention tip #2: Respond quickly in a crisis

If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about death or suicide, it’s important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Those at the highest risk for committing suicide in the near future have a specific suicide PLAN, the MEANS to carry out the plan, a TIME SET for doing it, and an INTENTION to do it.

The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:
• Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
• Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (MEANS)
• Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
• Do you intend to commit suicide? (INTENTION)

If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call 1-800-273-TALK(8255), dial 911, or take the person to an emergency room. Remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.

Level of Suicide Risk

Low — Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
Moderate — Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn’t very lethal. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
High — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
Severe — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will commit suicide.


Suicide prevention tip #3: Offer help and support

If a friend or family member is suicidal, the best way to help is by offering an empathetic, listening ear. Let your loved one know that he or she is not alone and that you care. Don’t take responsibility, however, for making your loved one well. You can offer support, but you can’t get better for a suicidal person. He or she has to make a personal commitment to recovery.
It takes a lot of courage to help someone who is suicidal. Witnessing a loved one dealing with thoughts about ending his or her own life can stir up many difficult emotions. As you’re helping a suicidal person, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Find someone that you trust—a friend, family member, clergyman, or counselor—to talk to about your feelings and get support of your own.

Helping a suicidal person:
• Get professional help. Do everything in your power to get a suicidal person the help he or she needs. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor’s appointment.
• Follow-up on treatment. If the doctor prescribes medication, make sure your friend or loved one takes it as directed. Be aware of possible side effects and be sure to notify the physician if the person seems to be getting worse. It often takes time and persistence to find the medication or therapy that’s right for a particular person.
• Be proactive. Those contemplating suicide often don’t believe they can be helped, so you may have to be more proactive at offering assistance. Saying, “Call me if you need anything” is too vague. Don’t wait for the person to call you or even to return your calls. Drop by, call again, invite the person out.
• Encourage positive lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and getting out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise is also extremely important as it releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.
• Make a safety plan. Help the person develop a set of steps he or she promises to follow during a suicidal crisis. It should identify any triggers that may lead to a suicidal crisis, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Also include contact numbers for the person’s doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.
• Remove potential means of suicide, such as pills, knives, razors, or firearms. If the person is likely to take an overdose, keep medications locked away or give out only as the person needs them.
• Continue your support over the long haul. Even after the immediate suicidal crisis has passed, stay in touch with the person, periodically checking in or dropping by. Your support is vital to ensure your friend or loved one remains on the recovery track.

I will also add this: do NOT be afraid to advocate for them with the mental health system. In many states it can take a lot to make sure someone with a mental health issue gets the care that they need. But you can do it and so can they!

As a final note: PTSD is becoming increasing a high risk factor in terms of suicide. The very nature of PTSD and the way it is conceived makes it difficult for those suffering with PTSD to reach out and get the help they need. And many people suffering from PTSD are our returning Veterans. It is believed that approximately every 65 minutes one of our returning Veterans commits suicide. If you are a veteran, a family member or a friend of Veteran, please let them know you are there for them and will help them.

Phone numbers and resources:

Suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-TALK(8255)
When you dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255), you are calling the crisis center in the Lifeline network closest to your location. After you call, you will hear a message saying you have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You will hear hold music while your call is being routed. You will be helped by a skilled, trained crisis worker who will listen to your problems and will tell you about mental health services in your area. Your call is confidential and free.

In an EMERGENCY call 911

Veterans Crisis Line
this is for veterans, guardsmen, friends and family members of those who have served our country
1-800-273-8255 and Press 1
Or send a text message to 838255

Vet2Vet Talk Line 1-855-838-7481
The Vet2Vet Talk Line (1-855-838-7481) provides 24/7 confidential peer support, information and referrals for all of America’s Veterans and their families. Every call is answered by a Veteran who understands the rewards and challenges of military service and is trained to provide compassionate and caring peer support along with access to a wide array of services across the nation.

Need help finding a qualified therapist in your area?
The link above will take you directly to a ‘find a therapist’ page. The therapists listed here all specialize in anxiety/depressive disorders.

No one willingly wants to die…it is not human nature…human nature is about survival and sometimes we need help. Don’t be alone or afraid anymore.

God Bless and Keep You
survivingshtfmom