Finding the words to talk about suicide |

Finding the words to talk about suicide

Each year, more people die from suicide than war, homicide, and natural disasters combined.

The good news is that suicide can be prevented if the signs are detected and the right actions are taken.

Healthy coping skills are critical for dealing with incidents of trauma throughout life. Unfortunately, some people find that life stressors are too difficult and some choose negative ways to cope. The most critical warning signs of suicide are:

Talking about wanting to die or about suicide

Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

Looking for ways to kill oneself

If someone you know is displaying these signs, take action and follow these steps:

Step one: Ask. Ask the person directly if he or she is thinking about suicide. "I've noticed you've been acting different and I'm really concerned. Are you thinking about suicide?"

Step two: Listen. Hear the person's story. Listen and offer support without judgment. "It sounds like you are going through a lot. I'm so sorry. How can I support you?"

Step three: Connect. Connect the person to resources. "I want to make sure you stay safe. Can we call someone so that we can keep you safe?"

Certain protective factors can help reduce the risk of suicide, including:

Effective behavioral health care.

Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions.

Life skills such as problem solving and coping.

Self-esteem and a sense of purpose or meaning in life.

Cultural, religious, or personal beliefs that discourage suicide.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

It’s time to move on — grieving process is different for everyone

"It's time to move on" is a statement that people who are grieving often hear.

Although people are trying their best to be supportive, this statement is the least helpful. The most important thing to remember when you are grieving is that there is no time frame with grief. One person's grief may last for six months, and another may last for two years or more. The grieving process is different for everyone and can be affected by ones' life experiences, belief system, religion, support system and type of loss.

When people are grieving, they have many different emotions and thoughts that typically fall into one of these stages at any given moment, according to the book "On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss." They are:

Denial: Having difficulty accepting the loss; difficultly completing usual activities

Anger — Anger at self, others, God, life; feeling abandoned and helpless.

Bargaining — Wishing things were different; thinking about "what should have been done" or "what could have been."

Depression — Feelings of sadness, overwhelmed with the loss and changes, anxiety and fear, isolated and lonely.

Acceptance — Acknowledging the reality of life with the loss; adjusting, healing, and having a sense of hope.

People may experience these stages at different times during the grieving process depending on what is going on in one's life, such as anniversaries and birthdays, and one may experience these stages years later. Though there is no road map for dealing with grief, it's important to trust your own process to best take care of yourself and to do what you feel is needed to move through the grieving process.

Acknowledge what you may be feeling. Nurture yourself through reading, listening to music, journaling, being with friends or being on your own. Seek professional help with a therapist or grief group if you are concern with your grief process at any time. Recognize that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. The grieving process is an individual process and it's not about moving on, but moving forward with your loss.

Resources in South Lake Tahoe include a Grief Support Group through Barton Hospice ( and individual therapy with the Marianna Randolph, the author of this article who specializes in grief counseling (

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

Healthy Tahoe: When a loved one is diagnosed with a mental health condition

As an active leader in the South Lake Tahoe chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, I work closely with family members who have loved ones with mental health issues. For many, one of the hardest times was learning about their child, partner, or friend's diagnosis and not knowing what do next. Some were shamed for not addressing their loved one's needs sooner and others were told they were too protective or doing too much.

I have been in this same position as a parent and unsure what to do for my adult child. Based on what I have learned and heard, here are few tips about what to do after you learn about your loved one's symptoms or diagnosis.

1. Avoid the blame game. Mental illness is not someone's fault. Avoid blaming yourself or others.

2. Get informed. Learn all you can about your loved one's diagnosis. Seek out ongoing educational opportunities to stay abreast of brain research and discoveries. It is important to keep current on brain science to the same degree as behavioral science.

3. Keep the communication lines open between you and your loved one. NAMI has many resources, including Family-to-Family program available in South Lake Tahoe, with suggestions for best communication practices.

4. Know the resources available. Familiarize yourself with resources and services in the community. Visit one of the six Mental Health resource kiosks in South Lake Tahoe or find an in-depth list of services on

5. Find a community of support. It's not just about getting help for your loved one, but also for you! Attend the NAMI Family Support Group at the South Lake Tahoe Library on the second Tuesday of each month from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

6. Avoid hiding. The more we talk, the more we learn, and the more we reduce the sigma.

Imagine how we would think about mental health if we assumed all our children, colleagues or neighbors had a mental health condition. Maybe we would be more proactive in getting timely healthcare and supporting prevention education. We might focus less on "what ifs" and more on solutions.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

Healthy Tahoe: Let’s have an honest talk about suicide

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and you may have heard the phrase "each mind matters."

Why does each mind matter? Mental health is something we all have. Just as our bodies need attention, our minds also need nourishment and care. Suicide rates are increasing and there is a relationship between mental illness and suicide. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about 90 percent of people who die by suicide have experienced mental health issues.

At the Suicide Prevention Network, it is our goal to bring awareness to suicide. This includes recognizing signs and symptoms as well as reducing the stigma.

As community members, we all play a role in reducing the negative associations around suicide and mental illness. It is up to us to be advocates and caregivers who provide support and lifesaving resources for loved ones at risk.

Anyone can be at risk of suicide. Two big risk factors are having life stressors and lacking skills to cope with these stressors. Life stressors may include health, finances, divorce, children, moving, family problems, employment, death of a loved one or a loss of any kind. Some positive ways to cope with these stressors are exercise, deep breathing, healthy nutrition, appropriate sleep, listening to music and talking to someone you trust.

Unfortunately, some may find that life stressors are too difficult or some choose negative ways to cope. Signs of suicide may include:

Talking about death directly

Giving away possessions

Engaging in risky behavior (i.e. driving recklessly, coming to work intoxicated)

Abusing or consuming excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs

Sleeping too much or too little

Eating too much or too little

Making funeral arrangements

Isolating from loved ones

Engaging in self-harm (cutting or burning)

Feeling hopeless

If someone you know is displaying these signs or reaching out to you for help, it is important to have a conversation with that person. Here is one script the Suicide Prevention Network recommends to follow:

Step One: Ask

Ask the person directly if he or she is thinking about suicide. "I have noticed you have been acting different and I am really concerned. Are you thinking about suicide?"

Step Two: Listen

Hear the person's story. Listen and offer support without judgement. "It sounds like you are going through a lot. I am so sorry. How can I support you?"

Step Three: Connect

Connect the person to resources. "I want to make sure you stay safe; can we call someone so that we can keep you safe?"

Here are prevention and support hotlines that anyone can call for immediate suicide concerns:

Suicide prevention lifeline 800-273-8255 or text "ANSWER" to 839863;

24-Hour psychiatric emergency services (El Dorado County Mental Health); Placerville: 530-622-3345; South Lake Tahoe: 530-544-2219;

Suicide Prevention Network California or Nevada residents 775-783-1510;

Other local mental health resources can be found at

Suicide is everyone's business and there is support available! May we all be aware of our mental health and well-being so that we can help each other find hope and healing.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

Correction: This article originally contained an incorrect date for the next Survivor of Suicide Support Group meeting. It has been corrected.

Healthy Tahoe: Making sense of strong emotions

Emotions — what a puzzle! We all have them, yet none of us understand them very well. Why is that? Stated simply: Some people seem to have more emotions than others. But why? Why do some people seem to have a shorter fuse, or struggle to control themselves, or have a harder time letting things go? Why are teen years often so difficult? And beyond all that, why do we as a species experience so much rage, hatred, violence, bias, injustice and discrimination? Indeed, why can't we all just get along?

Fortunately, science is making progress in understanding emotions. One way is through a basic model called bio-social theory. It involves ideas about how we are born (the bio part) and how we are raised (the social part).

Biological Background

Some people are simply born with more emotions than others. Like hair or eye color, emotional tendencies seem, to some extent, to be a heritable trait. Those with more emotions than others will tend to react faster, have stronger responses, have a harder time controlling their reactions, and need more time to return to their emotional baseline. We call this overall pattern "emotional vulnerability." People with a higher emotional response may have a more acute or sensitive reaction to challenging and even everyday events.

Role of Life Events

We sometimes encounter experiences that increase our emotional vulnerability. This is the "social" part of the bio-social theory. Emotional vulnerability can elevate because of a variety of occurrences, such as invalidation (from the environment or from yourself), trauma, substances, poor sleep, illness, lack of coping skills or feeling overwhelmed.

Life looks very different to emotionally vulnerable people. There is no doubt that emotions at this level can be more painful for them compared to less emotional people.

The good news is the same science that helps us observe and describe emotions can also help us predict and influence them. So if you or someone you love seems to be struggling with emotional vulnerability, know there are solutions and help is available.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

Healthy Tahoe: Refuel your body and your mind

What fills you up? When you are tired, worn down and need some refueling, what do you do?

These are just a few questions I ask parents and caregivers. For many, the daily demands are overwhelming and it is difficult to find time for self-care and to refuel. However, these are some of the very things your body and mind need to avoid burnout, regain energy, and provide support for your children and family.

Imagine your body is like a car. What happens if you don't refill your gas tank before it reaches empty? Maybe you run out of gas on the way to work and have to call a friend or a tow truck. You are then late for work, have to reschedule meetings, need to find a ride for your kids, and the list goes on. Your day spirals costing time, money, and energy.

Just like your car, refueling your personal gas tank should be a non-negotiable. You might feel like you don't have the time to get gas, but you have to force yourself to refill the tank. Because if your car's tank reaches empty, the consequences are greater and harder to recover from.

What are some of the consequences that you have experienced for letting your personal gas tank go to empty? Did you lose your temper? Did you say unkind words to a co-worker or a loved one? It is important to know what motivates you to change so that, in the moment, self-care doesn't seem like a waste of time.

To refuel your body and your mind, take a few moments and write down what helps you relax and what brings you joy. Seriously, stop reading this article and find a pen and paper now! List at least three things. Then, write down when these things can get done and who will support you in accomplishing this goal.

This exercise is one of a variety of different techniques you can use to increase your parental resiliency. Resiliency is defined as the ability to recover from difficult situations and experiences. This is a very important quality for parents and caregivers. Inevitably, families will experience difficult times. How you respond to these difficulties will shape your children's coping skills and how they deal with tough situations.

Parental resiliency is one of five core protective factors I teach in the Parent Leadership Workshop series. This is a fun, interactive class that also covers child development, social and emotional competency, and ways to advocate for your children. The next Parent Leadership Workshop series starts Saturday, May 6, and all parents and caregivers are welcome to attend.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

Mental Health Month in El Dorado County

May is national Mental Health Month — an important time to promote mental wellness for all, said Jamie Samboceti, deputy director of El Dorado County Behavioral Health Services.

Studies show that nearly one in five people in California report needing help with a mental or emotional health problem. According to Samboceti, there should be no shame in seeking help.

Everyone can support the goal of optimal mental health by:

Connecting with family and friends to feel supported, valued and understood.

Staying physically active; when the body is moving, stress-reducing hormones are released.

Connecting to others in the community to feel a sense of belonging and purpose.

Seeking professional help to feel better during times of stress and difficulty in coping.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of someone in emotional distress, and supporting them in seeking help.

Accessing support services such as the National Friendship Line at 800-971-0016, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or nationwide Crisis Text Line at 741741.

The Behavioral Health Division of the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency provides crisis services, including operating a 24-hour crisis line for residents, and is a response partner with emergency response agencies during traumatic community events. Behavioral Health also conducts assessments, and provides adult and contracted children's outpatient services, case management and groups for residents who meet the criteria for specialty mental health services. Wellness centers through Behavioral Health also offer free peer support groups, information, lifeskills trainings and assistance for those seeking a supportive environment. In addition, the division also coordinates mental health prevention programs and trainings in the community.

This article was provided by El Dorado County Health and Human Services. To reach behavioral health staff regarding general information, the outpatient clinic and wellness center, call 530-573-7970 in South Lake Tahoe or 530-621-6290 on the West Slope of El Dorado County. For crisis services, call 530-544-2219 in South Lake Tahoe and 530-622-3345 on the West Slope. Visit for more information.

Healthy Tahoe: Balance can bring a more enjoyable life

Does it just seem like we need more than 24 hours in a day? I often think if I had eight more hours in a day that I could get so much more done. I realize this is an illusion and, in reality, the items on my list are never-ending. But for some reason the cultural message is that we are superhumans. We can do it all, get everything done, and look good while doing it.

I see this illusion in my patients. Many deal with chronic stress. Initially, the stress is addicting. It feels good to have adrenaline coursing through our bodies. Many of us find identity and identify accomplishments by how busy we are.

Unfortunately, there's a downside to this behavior. Chronic stress taxes the endocrine system and creates a constant stream of cortisol, a stress hormone excreted by the adrenal glands. This initially provides strength to get through an emergency situation, but frequent signals to the system can cause a cortisol imbalance leading to weight gain, reproductive issues, insomnia, chronic inflammation and digestive disorders. This can eventually manifest into chronic illnesses such as heart disease, metabolic syndrome, depression, autoimmunity and chronic fatigue.

Carving out time in the day for relaxation to nourish the endocrine system is a difficult task. However, creating some intentional lifestyle habits can teach our physiology to work in our favor. Through years of practice, I have come up with basic tools to promote greater balance. Here are three of my eight lifestyle tips for promoting balance.

1) Breathe. We can't live without breathing, but how we breathe can change the nervous system's response. Deep breathing is the physiological response to trigger a switch from the sympathetic ("fight or flight") to parasympathetic ("rest and digest") autonomic nervous system. Instead of taking a smoking or cell phone break, take a breathing break! Breathe as you do dishes and other daily chores so you can be productive and relaxed at the same time.

2) Nourish. Eat and drink with consciousness. Slow down and do not multi-task while you eat. A prayer or blessing before your meal sets your nervous system into a parasympathetic, "rest and digest" state.

3) Reset. Ultradian rhythm, also called circadian rhythm in Western medicine, is an awareness of listening to the body's needs. It occurs in physiological cycles every 90 to 120 minutes. Productivity improves when you take a break or support your body's needs every 90 to 120 minutes. No one can be productive for more than 120 minutes without a break. Get up, move and reset your body.

Healthy Tahoe is a look at health-related topics that shape our community and is made possible through content provided by our sponsors.

Healthy Tahoe: There is opportunity for healing in the way that you speak

Your body responds to every word that you say. You can experience it for yourself right now if you wish.

You can explore this by saying aloud a positive statement, and then noticing how your body responds. Notice how it feels. Then, say aloud a negative statement and notice how your body feels in response to those words. You may notice that your body contracts or tightens in response to the negative statement, while it expands and feels lighter in response to the positive statement.

This philosophy is explored in depth in Barbara Levine's book, "Your Body Believes Every Word That You Say." Levine explores the link that language has between our mind and body, and shares her own personal experience in having and healing from a brain tumor. Neuro-lingusistics is also a growing healing field that explores such relationship between our words and our bodies.

"The Language of Healing" (LOH) is one of the founding principles of Vibrational Healing Massage Therapy, a holistic bodywork modality with an emphasis on joints and energy field. LOH, in essence, is the practice of being conscious of what you think and say. With new awareness, we naturally choose to think and speak in a way that opens up the possibilities for the desired outcome, rather than the undesired outcome.

Without an awareness of the LOH, we tend to speak in a way that brings consciousness to our pain. For example, "my shoulder always hurts," or "that's my bad knee." The LOH would take that into perspective, and bring forth awareness that the words being used are quite possibly anchoring the experience of the shoulder "always" hurting, and the knee being "bad."

The idea is to speak about the unwanted condition by referring to it in the past. When referring to the present and the future, we want to use words that illustrate the desired condition. For example, a new way of saying, "my shoulder always hurts" would be, "my shoulder was hurting in the past. Right now, I would like to experience relief. In the future I would like full range of motion that feels good in my shoulder."

By using thoughts and language to tell a story of constant pain, it propels that story and experience to take place in the future. When we choose to speak differently, it opens us up to much more possibility, and the desired outcome will likely be found there. It becomes almost impossible to experience the healing we want when we continually affirm how much pain we are in.

The point here is not to ignore your pain. It is to shift into a forward thinking approach to your pain and healing. Recognize your pain, as it is part of the pathway for your healing, and, refer to it in the past. Be conscious of what you are thinking and saying in relation to your body, and all areas of your life. Once you get your mind and words on board with the direction you're wanting to head in, the desired outcome is much more likely to be on its way to you.

Rooting For You,

Erin Ann Barcellos, ATP, MBW, HLC, is founder of Supported By Angels Center for Holistic Healing and can be reached at 530-318-4964 or

Healthy Tahoe: Know your yoga poses

Tadasana, also called Samasthiti or Mountain Pose, is a strong, active, standing pose.

Consider the strength, stability and beauty of our great mountain, Mount Tallac. It is perfectly balanced between earth and sky, it is rooted deep into the earth while reaching majestically toward the heavens.

In yoga, the practice of standing poses brings vigor, health and stability to the body and positivity and peace to the mind and soul. Mountain Pose teaches you to stand equally on both feet with firmness, conviction and balanced grace. It brings good posture, strength, balance, steadiness, a toned cardiovascular system and a bright outlook on life.

How To:

Stand with your arms at your sides, feet hip distance wide and toes facing forward. Shift weight back to heels. Press inner and outer heels down. Stretch toes forward and press the base of the big toes and the little toes down. Set tips of toes gently down. Weight all four points of your feet equally.

Firm thighs, tighten and lift kneecaps, firm hips, and draw abdominal muscles in and slightly up.

Keep chest and sternum bone moving forward and lifting. Make sure ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and ears are stacked in line.

Stretch spine up and gaze straight ahead with soft eyes and relaxed jaw and tongue.

Balance equally on all four corners of both feet without swaying or shifting.

Standing very still, take 5 deep, smooth, full breaths, expanding the ribcage all the way around. Keep the abdomen tight. Move the inhalation into the lower lungs/ribs first and expand ribcage from base to top. Exhale from top lungs/ribs first, the move exhalation down the ribcage.

For more information, please contact Lorilyn Haubrich, RYT, at, or call 530-307-1005. Yoga Tahoe is a joint venture partner with Supported By Angels Center for Holistic Healing.