AMES, Iowa – Iowa’s communities, schools and families are facing unprecedented stressors and uncertainty imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, drought conditions and the recent derecho. Predictions have been made about an increase in deaths by suicide due to the social isolation, economic stress and other factors related to the pandemic, and those predictions were prior to the drought and the derecho that caused destruction across the state.
“That is why it is so important for our friends, family members and colleagues to help each other,” said David Brown, behavioral health specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
“September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and everyone needs to understand the warning signs of stress or when a person may be contemplating suicide,” Brown said.
“Such signs could include updating a will, giving away prized possessions or posting Facebook messages about death. When a friend, family member or colleague notices such signs, they need to act boldly to engage the person they are concerned about. They need to work together with this person to help them make the choice to stay alive and accept professional help,” Brown said.
In response to such concerns, ISU Extension and Outreach is offering weekly, online “Question. Persuade. Refer.” sessions. QPR is a suicide prevention program that teaches participants three steps to help save a life from suicide.
“Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help,” Brown explained. ISU Extension and Outreach will offer QPR every Tuesday in September and October from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 27. Each program will last for one hour.
Though the program has an agricultural focus, any interested community member, family member or human service professional can register at no cost for any of these programs. To register, go to https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/QPR. Participants will receive a unique URL prior to the program to access the Zoom program.
For more information, feel free to contact David Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other resources and programs
ISU Extension and Outreach, in collaboration with COVID Recovery Iowa, is now offering “Stress on the Farm: Strategies That Help” programs. To register at no cost, go to https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/stress-farm.
COVID Recovery Iowa, in collaboration with ISU Extension and Outreach, is now offering, “I Feel ‘Blue’: Resources for Life in a Pandemic.” This short, virtual program is designed to provide education about feelings of sadness and loss and how people can manage and overcome them. Individuals will also receive practical resources to help navigate the strong feelings provoked by the pandemic. To register at no cost, go to https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences//events?filter= and select the program, date and time you are interested in.
COVID Recovery Iowa offers a variety of services to anyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual counselors and consultants provide counseling, family finance consultation, farm financial consultation, and referral information and help finding resources for any Iowan seeking personal support. Iowans of all ages may join groups online for activities and learn creative strategies for coping with the effects of the pandemic. COVID Recovery Iowa will announce upcoming programs on the website and via all social media to help Iowans build coping skills, resilience and emotional support. To request support, go to https://www.COVIDrecoveryiowa.org or call the Iowa Warm Line at 1-844-775-9276.
Iowa Concern, offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, provides confidential access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. With a toll-free phone number, live chat capabilities and a website, Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge. To reach Iowa Concern, call 800-447-1985; language interpretation services are available. Or, visit the website, https://www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/, to live chat with a stress counselor one-on-one in a secure environment. Or, email an expert regarding legal, finance, stress, or crisis and disaster issues.
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