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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Good Call /  Editorial List

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 Good Call

I received a call yesterday from my good friend, Bob.  He is the owner of the Griswold Special Care franchise in Miami and was quite concerned after having gotten word of the second male family caregiver suicide in the community in as many months.   I have known Bob for many years, his wife having been my sisterís best friend as children, and our usual conversations run from lively political discussions to shared jokes and cartoons that can be found online. This time, he was calling to sound an alarm bell.  He was most concerned that these two gentlemen in particular seemed to be easily handling the things that came their way as family caregivers. 

In researching his concern, I ran across an article written by Donna Cohen, Ph.D., a noted caregiving author and professor at the University of South Florida.  Dr. Cohenís article was entitled ďHomicide-Suicide in Older Persons: How You Can Help Prevent a Tragedy.Ē  I think it applies here.

 Some good advice from Dr. Cohen:

What to Do if You See Signs

  • Do not be afraid to ask if the older person has thought about suicide or homicide-suicide. You will not be giving them new ideas.
  • Do not act surprised or shocked. This will make them withdraw from you. Continue talking and ask how you can help.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available. Do not offer glib reassurance. It may make the person believe that you do not understand.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support. If you cannot do this, find someone who can, such as a neighbor or a minister, priest, or rabbi.
  • Ask whether there are guns in the house. Ask the person what plans they have to die. The more detailed the plan, the higher the risk.
  • Remove guns and other methods to kill.
  • Do not be sworn to secrecy. Get help from persons or agencies that specialize in crisis intervention.
  • Call a crisis hotline in your area or seek the help of a geriatric specialist. Do not try to do things by yourself.

Finding Help

There is help in the community. If you believe there is a risk for homicide-suicide, contact a professional immediately. Call a suicide crisis center, a crisis hotline, a family physician, a psychiatric or medical emergency room, or a community mental health center listed in the yellow pages of your phone book.


Gary Barg

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