5 Things You Should Know About Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention
A Wednesday conversation at Farmington Hills city hall focused on the connections among drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues and suicide.
More than 40 people who attended a Wednesday "community conversation" learned that studies show a connection between substance abuse, mental health issues and suicide.
During the 2-hour presentation, speakers included Dr. Ryan Blackstock, a clinical psychologist with the Michigan School of Professional Psychology, Farmington Hills Police Chief Chuck Nebus, Farmington Public Safety Director Bob Schulz, 47th District Court Judge Marla Parker and Al-Anon representative Mitch Seelye. Here are five things you should know about the presentation:
- For five people in Farmington Hills, substance abuse plus depression equalled suicide last year. Nebus shared general information about five incidents in which that connection was fatal for residents in his city. The people who committed suicide had either been using drugs or alcohol, or were facing consequences as a result of substance abuse. There were seven suicides in the city in 2012, down from 10 in 2011, he said.
- Marijuana use is on the rise. Blackstock cited a University of Michigan study that showed a connection between the perception of marijuana and marijuana use. "When it's perceived that's dangerous, statistically, the rates of use are lower," he said. A graph showed marijuana use among high school seniors has been on the rise since the late 1990s.
- Signs of substance abuse should never be ignored. They may include changes in mood and in groups of friends, loss of interest in activities, falling grades, failing to tend to personal hygiene, seeing drugs or paraphernalia or smelling marijuana or alcohol on a child's clothing or breath.
- 'You've got to be able to talk to your kids about drinking.' Blackstock said parents also need to set an example by drinking responsibly. He advised knowing who your child's friends are and connecting with other parents. Also, he said, "I think it's okay to share your experiences, especially if you can tie in the negative experiences. Make it real."
- Resources and help are available. The Michigan Mental Health Networker website lists many Michigan resources. A handout distributed at the meeting listed Henry Ford Health-Maplegrove, Eastwood Community Clinic and Oakland Family Services for help with teen substance abuse, and Havenwyck Hospital, Kingswood Hospital and Common Ground for help with mental health issues. Family involvement in treatment, Blackstock said, increases the odds of a child getting well.
The event was the fourth in a series of events sponsored by the Farmington Area Suicide Prevention Task Force and Graham E. Smith Memorial Fund. Farmington Hills city council members Nancy Bates, Randy Bruce and Ken Massey spearheaded the task force in 2010, after they noticed an alarming increase in suicide attempts or threats among young teens among police calls.
In May of 2011, Graham Smith, son of Ken Massey's wife, Katherine, committed suicide. The memorial fund honors his memory.
To get immediate help for yourself, a friend or family member, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room. Help is also available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK, Common Ground, 800-231-1127 or Samaritan Counseling Center, 248-474-4701.