From the McCook (Neb.) Daily Gazette

THE HOLIDAY season can be a joyous time as we reunite with family and friends, as well as a time of despair for those who may not be able connect with loved ones or who are alone.

Domestic disputes and, sadly, suicides become more common during a normal holiday season, but this year’s pandemic is likely to magnify the problem by orders of magnitude.

Even those of us with stable home lives and mental health are prone to feel emotional distress, anxiety, confusion and powerlessness in the face of the risk of contracting COVID-19 or the need to curtail normal holiday activities.

If you’re feeling like there’s no way to solve your problem or address your pain ... help is available.

“No matter how much pain you’re experiencing right now, you’re not alone,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the Nebraska Division of Behavioral Health. “Feeling suicidal doesn’t mean that you are weak or flawed. It only means that you feel hopeless in the moment. There is a way back to feeling normal again and there are people who want to help you get there. With time and support, you can overcome your problems and the pain and help keep you safe. If you, a loved one, or someone you know feels suicidal, please seek help immediately.”

Warning signs of suicide include:

• Increased alcohol and drug use

• Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself

• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

• Aggressive or anxious behavior

• Sleeping too little or too much

• Withdrawal from friends, family and community

• Dramatic mood swings

• Impulsive or reckless behavior

Suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency. If a friend or loved one is engaged in any of the following, or if you recognize these symptoms in yourself, please seek help:

• Giving away possessions

• Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers

• Saying goodbye to friends and family

If you are near any items that you are thinking about using to hurt yourself, put them away and out of reach. If you’ve been drinking alcohol or taking drugs, stop. It will only make you feel more out of control.

To keep yourself from feeling suicidal, get the help and treatment you need, build your support network with friends, family, your minister or pastor, and support groups. Take one step at a time.

Warning signs aren’t always obvious, and they may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret. Just like signs of a stroke or heart attack, know the warning signs of suicide to save a life.

If someone is imminently threatening suicide and has the access and the means to do so, call 911.

Need to talk or get immediate help in a crisis?

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522

National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

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