National Suicide Prevention Week

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National Suicide Prevention Week

National Suicide Prevention Week is September 8-14 and National Suicide Prevention Day is September 10th. The most recent 2017 data from the Center for Disease Control shows that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in North Carolina.

There is not a single therapeutic approach for all people who are considering suicide, but some of the warning signs someone might be considering suicide are:

  • Expressions of hopelessness / helplessness
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Personality changes
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Verbal suicide threats such as “Maybe I won’t be around” or “You would be better off without me”
  • Daring or risk-taking behaviorLack of interest in future plans
  • Depression

If you feel someone might be in trouble, you should trust your instincts.  You should always ask direct non-judgmental questions to determine if the person has a detailed plan, because a specific plan reflects a greater risk. You should not leave the person alone if you feel they are in trouble.  You should also talk to the person about your concerns as you make sure you are listening to the person and their thoughts. You should not act judgmental or shocked and you should not swear to secrecy.

Some protective factors for suicide prevention are effective clinical care for physical, mental, and substance abuse disorders, family support and community support, skills in conflict resolution, problem solving, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes.

The suicide prevention hotline is: 1-800-273-8255.

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day

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August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. This annual global event is aimed at raising awareness of drug overdoses while reducing the stigma from drug-related deaths. This annual awareness day is used to relay the message that this is a preventable tragedy. International Overdose Awareness Day is also a time to acknowledge the grief families and friends have as they remember those who have a permanent injury or died as a result of a drug overdose.

In 2016, four North Carolinians died each day from either a drug overdose or from unintentional medication. Responding to this unprecedented loss of life, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services decided in 2017 to distribute 40,000 units of the opioid reversal drug naloxone to families, friends, and first responders with the intent of saving lives in the event of an opioid overdose.

North Carolina has taken several steps to address this crisis including:

  • Increase access to office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) for opioid use disorder: Remove duplicative state registration of buprenorphine prescribers that NC doctors widely cite as a barrier to prescribing medication-assisted treatment in the office-based setting; and
  • Improve the ability of syringe exchange programs to prevent the costly spread of disease: Remove the ban on using state funds to purchase supplies for syringe exchange programs.

National Safety Month

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National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month! National Safety Month is a reminder to be more aware and help prevent deaths at work and unnecessary injuries in our homes, communities, and on the roads. The CDC encourages a 4-week plan that could be implemented the entire year.

Emergency Preparedness incorporates health and occupational safety into any emergency response plan. Identifying preparedness activities and strategic planning protocols are created to protect recovery and response workers. The best way to prepare for emergency situations is to actively participate in safety drills both at home and at work. If there is ever an emergency, being trained in First Aid CPR is a useful skill.

Wellness in a holistic approach for workers well-being, safety, and health has been explored as an opportunity to advance while protecting workers from hazards. Prolonged periods of high stress levels can lead to a number of physical ailments which can possibly lead to the risk of depression. Sleep is also important for your complete health. Lack of sleep in some jobs can have an adverse effect on the person and the people around them. Pilots, trucking, healthcare, and emergency responses are all occupations where fatigue is a serious problem.

Falls are a problem that’s preventable in the workplace but also remain persistent. Retail and wholesale industries and health services continue to have the highest number of nonfatal fall injuries. The number one cause of construction-worker fatalities are falls. Falls from heights often cause more serious injuries, deaths and are a safety risk for all age groups.

Motor vehicle accidents are a common danger. Ninety-four percent of motor vehicles accidents involve human error. Buckling up every time you are in a motor vehicles is a simple step that can take to help prevent injuries and death. An impaired driver plays a role in many crashes and driver impairments range from distracted driving to drugs, alcohol, and fatigue.

Clean Air Month

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Clean Air Month

Take a deep breath and smell the trees and spring air. May is Clean Air Month. Clean air has a natural balance of gases such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen. The Clean Air Act started in 1970 and has been successfully reducing air quality related to premature death and health conditions.

The four key climate change that impacts the influence social determinants of health includes: rising sea levels and flooding, extreme temperatures, extreme natural disasters and weather along with air quality and pollution. Social determinants of mental and physical well-being can make a big difference depending on the quality of life and health. Some examples of this could be access to nature or neighborhood safety, or availability to local healthy foods. Almost 4 out of 10 people live in a place that pollution levels are too dangerous to breathe safely.

The University of Washington found that higher levels of air pollution have a greater impact on mental health. Air pollution is associated with behavior changes because people spend less time outside which creates a more sedentary lifestyle. This lifestyle can be related to social isolation or distress.In 2016, there was an environmental research review that concluded even though more research is needed exposure to air pollution has an increased risk of autism.

Rush University Medical Center researchers studied the cognitive (the brain processes such as remembering, reasoning, and thinking) effects of air pollution. The most dangerous kind of air pollution is fine particulate matter because it is smaller, found in motor vehicle exhaust, along with the public transportation exhaust such as buses and trains. Smaller particles infiltrate the body which gets into the lungs then into the blood system. When this matter is inhaled, attaches to the nerve endings in the nasal cavities, then it travels to the brain.

These are things we can do to help control or prevent air pollution: reduce car usage; keep your vehicles well-maintained which reduces harmful exhaust emissions; avoid burning candles, at home; say no to plastic or reduce, recycle, reuse; plant more trees and grass to limit bare soil areas which reduces dust in the air; and quit smoking.

Alcohol Awareness Month

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Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This is a disease that is not pinpointed by factors like sex, race, genetics, or socioeconomics as a single case but behavioral, psychological and genetic factors can contribute to having this disease. Alcoholism changes the neurochemistry and brain, which is why a person with this addiction may not be able in control of their actions. The severity of alcohol addiction varies from person to person. There are some people that drink heavily all day and there are others that will stay sober for a while the binge drink.

There are many different factors that can increase the risk of a person turning to alcohol and eventually developing a dependency on alcohol. They can range from:

Relieving Stress: As a sedative and depressant, alcohol produces feelings of pleasure but this can also build a tolerance requiring the need to consume more alcohol for the same amount of pleasure.

Trauma: Some people treat unresolved trauma through excessive drinking.

Lack of Connection: Some people feel alcohol will make it easier to forge new bonds or feel the void of feeling inadequately connected to others.

Coping with Loss: Depending on alcohol some people feel that it can help ease their grief in difficult times but even if it’s temporary it can spiral into a drinking problem.

Some of the more common warning signs of alcoholism include: not being able to control their alcohol consumption; spending a lot of money on alcohol; craving to drink alcohol even when the person is not drinking; having the need to keep drinking more; personal responsibilities being ignored to drink alcohol more; and acting differently after drinking.One of the biggest decisions someone with an alcohol addiction will face is deciding to seek help. The 3 phrases Alcohol treatment is broken into detoxification (this should be completed by professionals), rehabilitation (this can be either inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab), and maintenance (this could include counseling, support groups, or recovery resources).

Brain Injury Awareness Month

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Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and the campaign theme is #Change Your Mind. The campaign is helping to raise awareness and de-stigmatizing brain injury through outreach within the brain community, promoting the different types of available support for people living with a brain injury, and empowering the survivors of brain injury and their caregivers.

Every 9 seconds someone sustains a brain injury in the United States, which makes up more than 3.5 million children and adults. An acquired brain injury (ABI) is not induced by birth trauma, congenital, hereditary, or is not degenerative and is most often associated with pressure on the brain. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by an external force which damages the skull or causes the brain to move inside the skull.

The typical causes of acquired brain injury are: poisoning or exposure to toxic substances, infection, strangulation, choking, drowning, tumors, heart attacks, strokes, abuse of illegal drugs, neurological illnesses, and aneurysms.

The typical causes of traumatic brain injury are: car accidents, blows to the head, sports injuries, accidents or falls, and physical violence.

Some physical symptoms of brain damage could include persistent headaches, tremors, extreme mental and physical fatigue, sensitivity to light, paralysis, slurred speech, sleep disorders, and loss of consciousness.

Some emotional and behavioral symptoms could include reduced tolerance for stress, sluggishness, denial of disability, increased aggressiveness, flattened or heightened emotions or reactions, and irritability and impatience.

Some ways to possibly reduce the risk of brain damage is: never shake a child, install window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows, wear helmets while cycling or during sports, install shock-absorbing material on playgrounds, if you have a gun keep it unloaded and locked away, wear seatbelts in cars, drive safely, install and use handrails on stairways, don’t use illegal drugs, drink alcohol in moderation but never drink alone and avoid falls by using a stepstool when reaching for high items.