How to ‘chalk it out’

How to ‘chalk it out’
(Liz Gray/Reporter) The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Behavioral Health Program held their annual chalk message event in observance of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Sept. 10 at the Claude Cox Omniplex in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

Liz Gray/Reporter

MCN Behavioral Health discusses how to talk about suicide as an issue

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — Inspirational messages surrounded by vivid pops of color scattered the pavement under the pavilion. The declaration ‘Remember there is light at the end of the tunnel!’ arched around a sleepy but peaceful unicorn with red, pink and blue hair while a bold medicine wheel spelled out ‘hope’ in each direction.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Behavioral Health Prevention Programs hosted a chalk message contest in support of suicide prevention Sept. 10 at the Claude Cox Omniplex.

Participants were provided with sidewalk chalk and encouraged to ‘chalk it out.’

MCN Behavioral Health Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative and Native Connections Grant Project Coordinator Tyler Stone spoke on the annual event.

“We invite people to come out and just create positive messages regarding suicide prevention,” Stone said.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Stone offered some material discussed during the program’s QPR training for a friend or family member approaching someone they may have concerns about.

“What we train people to do is really to just be open and listening to the problem,” he said.

When asking someone if they may be suicidal Stone said even though someone might be afraid to ask, the best approach is to be upfront.

“It’s important to do so because it eliminates any doubt,” Stone said.

Physically being there for someone who is feeling isolated is just as important as emotional support he explained and sometimes well wishing has an opposite effect of what the positive intention might be.

“Telling people ‘I hope you get to feeling better,’ it may make that person feel more isolated,” Stone said.

He said there are times when someone is not only a danger to themselves but to others as well.

Stone shared an anecdote of a friend he lost to suicide earlier this year who had become so violent. It became hard for people who were not police officers to be in their presence.

He stressed taking safety precautions by limiting a person’s access to harmful objects if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Stone said it might be hard for people to understand if they do not have personal experience struggling with mental health.

He pointed out the awareness brought forth by celebrities and athletes, which has started a dialogue. He said with the loss of chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade this year due to suicide, the subject gained public attention but for just a certain amount of time.

“But sometimes that traction, that momentum, that fire will all last for like a week or and then it’s kind of out of our agenda,” Stone said.

Stigma is a word heavily associated with the attitude towards mental health. Stone gave an explanation for the occurrence.

Stone said he likes to use an analogy. He said when a person breaks their leg and is put into a cast, people are quick to line up to sign the cast and offer support but will run away when the case becomes about a person being suicidal or struggling with other mental health issues.

“I think it kind of goes back to the late 1800s into the 1900s. We were locking people up especially women if they were hysterical,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of comprehensive care.”

When the conversation led to the types of way people harm themselves, Stone said he believes suicide is under reported with deaths due to overdoses.

“We seem to kind of separate mental health, physical health. I like to believe they’re one in the same,” he said.

Stone believes making mental health care more accessible and more affordable could help people in need of medical attention.

MCN Behavioral Health provides several resources to those who may be suicidal or experiencing other mental health issues.

Main line: 918-758-1910

Toll Free: 1-800-273-TALK

Text: CREEK to 741-741

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