500 Dead in Oregon

December 9, 2010

That’s a headline that would certainly get your attention. If it were mass murder it would get wall-to-wall press coverage. But it doesn’t.

Sadly, it happens every year and goes largely unnoticed. And it’s preventable.

500 is the number of Oregonians who kill themselves each year.

Suicide.

At Oregon Partnership we get 18,000 calls a year to our Lifeline at 800-273-TALK. Many are people who feel the pain in their lives exceeds their coping resources. Our dedicated volunteer staff listen compassionately and connect callers with resources that can exceed their pain.

Suicide is preventable.

Call us.

-Tom

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Suicide – A Surviving Son’s Story

October 12, 2010

(Editor’s note: 23 years ago Nick’s father chose to kill himself. That decision has left permanent heartache and trouble for all those left behind. Here is Nick’s story)

When I was almost 3, my father killed himself. Although I have come a long way since then, his loss has been a constant uphill battle that unfortunately will always be part of my life.

When I was younger, I was never really able to deal with my emotions of anger, sadness, and loneliness in a healthy way. I grew up an angry kid; I would get into fights and punch holes in walls and although my mom constantly tried to get me help, I was never able to really deal with the true pain I felt inside. Even to this day I could never truly understand how a father could leave behind three boys, my two half- brothers and me, all of whom were talented, funny, and bright. Besides relying on one another, we all turned to sports as a way of coping and to this day it infuriates me that my dad never once saw me play ball.

Another situation that used to bother me was spending time at my friends’ homes and watching their interactions with their fathers and realizing that this would never be me. One situation that has stayed with me was a time when I was interviewing for application to a private school; during the interview I totally disengaged. On the way home my mother asked what happened and I told her that every kid there had their mother and father to support them and I didn’t feel like I fit in.

I truly never understood how a person could take his own life until I was 15 and all my feelings of anger, frustration, and abandonment resulted in my own attempt at suicide. Fortunately, my mom got me the help I needed and I was able to move on in a positive manner.

Growing up without a father was never easy and there were times in my life that I felt so much pain I couldn’t bear it. This situation has forced me to become an extremely strong person. I’m independent and have worked hard to accomplish goals in my life.

Although I have a great relationship with my mother and brothers, it will never compensate for the pain I have experienced growing up without a dad.

– Nick


Rutgers Student’s Suicide a Call to Action

October 1, 2010

The death of 18-year-old Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi has become a clarion call to all of us about the real dangers of bullying. He was outed as being gay on the internet and he killed himself.

This clip from Ellen deGeneres is far more eloquent than anything I could write: View Ellen’s Message

If you are struggling with bullying, questions about sexuality or any other issues, call us on the Oregon Partnership Help Line: (800) 923-HELP. The Youth Line is (877) YOUTH 911. Our suicide hot line numbers are (800) 273-TALK or 800 SUICIDE.

Make sure the people you know have these numbers.

There is help and hope.

-Tom


Leaving One Branch of Service for Another

September 30, 2010

(Editor’s Note: Tim Hasty leaves today to go into active service as a Lieutenant in the US Army. He has been a tremendous help to us in setting up our Military Helpline while waiting for his deployment orders)

My time here at Oregon Partnership working in drug prevention has refined me; I knew I was ready when those bars were pinned to my shoulders. I knew I was ready when my peers started to look to me for leadership, guidance and advice. I knew I was ready when I had come to peace with life changing in drastic ways. I knew I was ready.

Getting the news that I was going to have to wait to do what I had trained so hard to become was painful. I feared I would lose everything that I had become. The fine tuned skills of what I thought it meant to be a leader, to be responsible, to take responsibility, keeping myself to a high standard, I agonized about how I would lose all of that.

Instead of losing it all, my time here on the Military Helpline refined me. Polished me, turned me from a rough neck hard nose grunt into a something I have strived to become. I came here as a tough kid full of himself and his accomplishments. In my time here the world has grown before my eyes. I am sitting here today a man, fully versed in the ways of the world and how the matters of a single person do have an effect on people.

Compassion can save someone’s life. My view of life has been painted a different shade as a result of my time here. I arrived fresh faced and ignorant, I am leaving with a knowledge of how people care about each other, that life is not as harsh as I was taught and that caring is a good thing. It has made me a better soldier. I understand the struggle now.

Today is my last day here. It will be the last of many things for me and the first of many. The last time I answer the phone for those in need. The first time my country will call me during a time in need. The last time I will have the pleasure and honor of working with some of the most dedicated individuals I have come to know; the first time I lead the finest men this country has to offer. The last time I come to work in clothes of a civilian, the first time I wear the uniform of an officer in the United States Army. It is the beginning and the end of many things.

As I move on from this place, I think not of the job, but of the people. I came here to help those in need, and it was I who received the most help.

– Tim


Taco Bell & Portland Trailblazers Golf Tournament Benefits Oregon Partnership.

September 23, 2010
#1 NBA draft choice Greg Oden visits OP event

OP President Judy Cushing, Portland Trailblazer Greg Oden, OP Special Events Director Barbara Caplan

How cool is this?

Taco Bell and The Portland Trailblazers teamed up with 179 golfers to raise money for Oregon Partnership’s mission to end substance abuse and suicide. The 9th Annual “Bell-Blazers Classic” was blessed with good weather and nearly-perfect course conditions at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club on Tuesday, September 21. A full complement of celebrities joined in to make it a very enjoyable day.

What really stood out for me was the sincerity of the participants.

After most tournaments the golfers scatter, but at the Bell-Blazers Classic they stayed to hear about the drug prevention work of Oregon Partnership. Tom Cook, the head of the Taco Bell Franchise holders association , made an emotional personal endorsement about the importance of what we do to combat the ravages of drugs and alcohol. He challenged the participants to step up and join in that work with their personal donations. Mr. Cook also made a point to emphasize the Military Helpline (www.militaryhelpline.org) and the fact that 20% of our nation’s suicides are veterans.

It was moving to see so many people embrace these efforts with their hearts, minds and wallets.

– Tom


PTSD – A reaction by normal people to an abnormal situation.

September 12, 2010

PTSD

“PTSD is a reaction by normal people, to an abnormal situation – and there is nothing normal about war. “

This is the phrase we on the Military HelpLine use over and over to help soldiers, family members and other veterans understand the emotions they may be experiencing. We know that family and community awareness can be a life giving safety net.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of PTSD is a major step forward in battling the stigma and the effects.

Some of the PTSD symptoms of avoidance and numbing are:
Loss of interest in activities and life in general
Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
Sense of a limited future

PTSD is treatable; a person is not broken for life because of it. Soldiers, veterans and family members are given coping skills and learn to be aware of potential triggers.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder, it is important to seek help right away. The sooner PTSD is confronted, the easier it is to overcome.

It is only natural to want to avoid painful memories and feelings. However if you try to numb yourself and push your memories away, the symptoms of PTSD will only get worse. We work hard to normalize the emotions of PTSD. The idea is to give one the tools to cope and the techniques to survive.

Soldiers are fond of saying, “I got your back.” It gives them a sense of safety, loyalty and strength. The Military HelpLine has your back. Many of our volunteers have served in military service. I was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. When I get callers with military background, I can honestly say “I got your back.” I have walked in those boots, I have shouldered that rifle, I have lived that life.

That experience in my life has paid dividends. Now I get to help those who ask for and need the understanding, the empathy and the support. As part of the Military HelpLine, I am honored to be a part of the solution for PTSD.

By making the community, family members and veterans aware of the signs and symptoms, we can help to end the stigma and begin the healing.

– David D.

(Editor’s note: While everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are three main types of symptoms, as listed below.)
Re-experiencing the traumatic event
* Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
* Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
* Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
* Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
* Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)

PTSD symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing
* Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
* Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
* Loss of interest in activities and life in general
* Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
* Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)

PTSD symptoms of increased arousal
* Difficulty falling or staying asleep
* Irritability or outbursts of anger
* Difficulty concentrating
* Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”)
* Feeling jumpy and easily startled

The Military Helpline is staffed 24/7 and is a free, confidential service. (888) 457-4838 (888) HLP-4-VET


Suicide is Preventable

September 9, 2010

Suicide.

Such a loaded word…laden with a sense of stigma. One of the main goals when speaking with suicidal individuals and their loved ones is to decrease the feeling of shame that surrounds this act. As crisis line specialists, we believe that suicide can be prevented.

If you suspect that someone you know may be experiencing thoughts of suicide, it’s okay to ask, “How are you doing?” or “Are you alright…you seem kind of down.”

These are invitations that enable the suicidal person to discuss what he is experiencing. This may be the first time that another person may have been so direct with him. The opportunity for the individual to discuss possible suicidal thoughts may serve as a catharsis and offer true relief.

Listen to what the person at risk is saying. Pay attention to the emotions which are swirling under the words. Don’t try to fix her. It’s fine to say “I care.”
Familiarize yourself with some of the warning signs of suicidal behavior: Ongoing depression, a sense of hopelessness, financial and/or relationship issues and a family history of suicide. Other risk factors may include substance abuse and/or gambling.

Encourage your loved one to ask for help; you may find that you also need some emotional support. Asking for assistance may be the first step down the path of breaking the isolation that so frequently is associated with suicidal thoughts and behavior.

At Oregon Partnership our Crisis Line Specialists are trained to offer specific assistance for those folks who are struggling with the act of killing themselves. One goal is to develop rapport as well as an emotional connection. We are willing to walk down that path of darkness and despair…listening to all the pain and hopelessness that the individual is experiencing. Understanding the person’s current situation is essential to being able to offer meaningful assistance.
Hopefully, a safe plan will be developed and appropriate resources will be offered. The person will be offered a follow-up call, most likely scheduled for the same day, in order to ensure that the caller is still safe. This follow up call is significant…it continues to carry the message that we care.

A myth exists that if you talk about suicide to a depressed person you may be “planting the idea in the person’s mind.” In my experience this is completely untrue. If an individual is feeling hopeless and is struggling, chances are good that she has considered this ominous option. So, please don’t be afraid to address the situation.

You could be saving a life.

– Leslie

Oregon Partnership Lifeline: (800) 923-HELP or (800) SUICIDE