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Shawn Felts recalls going to a recent event and hearing about the struggles of a young farmer trying to support his family many years ago. The farmer became depressed and decided to end his life. He drove his tractor under a tree, tied one end of a rope to a branch and placed the other end around his neck. He attempted to put the tractor into gear so it would move forward, but the tractor wouldn’t move. The suicide attempt failed. Ms. Felts, outreach coordinator of Speak Out Against Suicide in Camanche, Iowa, said that story shows that people never know who needs help. People battling depression could be their neighbor, friend, farmer or co-worker. It’s important to know the signs of depression and know what to do to help people, said Ms. Felts, who helped host the Grow Clinton’s Coffee Talk meeting in late April. The meeting examined employers’ roles and resources in supporting employees’ mental health. “You may never know who needs your help. … We need to show there are a lot of great resources to help people,” she added. When it comes to helping co-workers or employees on the job, one the keys is spotting warning signs. Some of those signs include: Talking about feeling hopeless, talking about being a burden to others, the quality of their work is slipping and increased use of alcohol or drugs. And it also takes asking your friends and co-workers if they need help. “Be mindful that if you ask them ‘Are you OK?” They may say ‘Yes.’ But you need to go deeper. … Remember, we are all brought up to say ‘I’m OK,’” said Ms. Felts. She added that a big part of going “deeper” to help people is to not accept “I’m OK” as an answer. Helping co-workers often takes returning later to see if they need help, and perhaps taking them to lunch or coffee to talk over problems. And if they won’t talk to you, find a person they are more comfortable with and have them spur the conversation about getting help. “I finally got one girl to go to coffee with me, and she wouldn’t stop talking,” Ms. Felts said. After the discussion, she told the QCBJ that it’s important for co-workers to watch for signs of depression because sometimes people suffering will not show these signs to their family members or friends. There are cases when even the seemingly most successful people in business need help. Todd Noack, executive director of Life Connections Peer Recovery Services in DeWitt, Iowa, which offers support to people dealing with mental health and addiction issues, told the Coffee Talk group about his experiences. He said he went from a very successful businessman making a six-figure salary to depression after a serious back injury that required surgeries. “The physical impact of these surgeries was significant, but the impact on my mental health was even more severe,” Mr. Noack wrote in a Facebook post. “As a result of being forced out of the workforce, I developed severe anxiety and depression. I was admitted to the inpatient psychiatric unit at Genesis hospital for treatment. After spending time in the Genesis psychiatric unit, my recovery really began when I was released from the hospital and started treatment in a community-based setting.”
Area resources available include:The National Suicide Prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Speak Out Against Suicide in Camanche, Iowa, at (563) 259-8255 Life Connections Peer Recovery Services, DeWitt, Iowa, (563) 726-3244. Ms. Felts told the QCBJ she would welcome the chance to meet with more business officials because it’s vital to ask those tough questions and let people suffering from depression know that they are not alone. It’s also vital to ask that key question: “What can I do to help?”
Suicide warning signsShawn Felts, outreach coordinator of Speak Out Against Suicide, based in Camanche, offers these suicide warning signs:
- Looking for a way to kill oneself.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious, agitated or reckless.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge; and displaying extreme mood swings.