World HIV Day 2017

HIV Poster 2017

What is the prevalence of HIV in South Africa?

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region worst-affected by HIV and AIDS.  HIV/AIDS in South Africa is a prominent health concern; South Africa has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS compared to any other country in the world with 5,6 million people living with HIV, and 270,000 HIV related deaths recorded in 2011.  (UNAIDS)

The HIV prevalence for South Africa is the percentage of people that are HIV positive in the population out of the total population at a given point in time. One of the main HIV statistics for South Africa is that by the middle of 2017, 12.6% of the population, that is 7.06 million people are HIV positive.1Statistics South Africa  Mid-year population estimates 2017 www.statssa.gov.za

There are 1.86 million more People Living with HIV (PLHIV) than in 2008, when the percentage was 10.6, that is 5.2 million people. The increased prevalence of HIV in 2017 is largely due to the combined effect of new infections, and a successfully expanded ARV treatment programme, which has increased survival among people living with HIV.

Looking at the total population, the prevalence in women aged 15-49 is 21.17%, the prevalence in adults aged 15-49 is 17.98% and the prevalence among youth aged 15-24 is 4.64%.2Statistics South Africa  Mid-year population estimates 2017 www.statssa.gov.za

Overall women had a significant higher HIV prevalence than men. The prevalence of HIV was highest among women aged 30-34 and among men aged 35-39. In the teenage population the estimated HIV prevalence among women was eight times that of their male equivalents. This suggests that female teenagers aged 15-19 are more likely than their male equivalents to have sex, not with people in the same age group, but with older sex partners. In the age group 30-35 over one third of all women were estimated to be HIV positive.

 

Why is the South African HIV/AIDS prevalence so high?

Many factors contribute to the spread of HIV. These include: poverty; inequality and social instability; high levels of sexually transmitted infections; the low status of women; sexual violence; high mobility (particularly migrant labour); limited and uneven access to quality medical care; and a history of poor leadership in the response to the epidemic.

Research shows high levels of knowledge about the means of transmission of HIV and understanding of methods of prevention. However, this does not translate into HIV-preventive behaviour. Behaviour change and social change are long-term processes, and the factors that predispose people to infection – such as poverty and inequality, patriarchy and illiteracy – cannot be addressed in the short term. Vulnerability to, and the impact of, the epidemic is proving to be most catastrophic at community and household level.

How has this affected the everyday lives of South Africans?

The hardship for those infected and their families begins long before people die. Stigma and denial related to suspected infection cause many people to delay or refuse testing; fear and despair often follow diagnosis, due to poor-quality counselling and lack of support; poverty prevents many infected people from maintaining adequate nutrition to help prevent the onset of illness; limited access to clinics, waiting lists for ARV treatment programmes and eligibility criteria for access to ARVs mean that many people become seriously ill before accessing treatment; loss of income and support when a breadwinner or caregiver becomes ill, and the diversion of household resources to provide care exacerbate poverty; the burden upon family members, particularly children and older people caring for terminally ill adults, and the trauma of bereavement and orphan hood compromise the physical and mental well-being of entire households. This all happens in a society where the majority of children live in poverty and more than 25% of the economically active population is unemployed.

Women face a greater risk of HIV infection. On average in South Africa there are three women infected with HIV for every two men who are infected. The difference is greatest in the 15-24 age group, where three young women for every one young man are infected.

However, South Africa has made positive strides in managing the HIV and AIDS epidemic since the end of 2008. The numbers of people on antiretroviral treatment has increased dramatically to   1 900 000 and there were 100 000 fewer Aids-related deaths in 2011 than in 2005.

What are the proposed solutions?

For many years, the burden of care and support has fallen heavily on the shoulders of impoverished rural communities, where sick family members return when they can no longer work or care for themselves. Community-based care has been promoted as the best option since it would be impossible to care properly for hundreds of thousands of people dying from AIDS in public hospitals. The resilience and capacity to care for dying people and provide for those they leave behind in impoverished communities is extremely overstretched. There remains an acute need for social protection and interventions to support the most vulnerable communities and households affected by this epidemic. The challenge we still face is that people are not testing timeously therefore only once they are very ill at quite a late stage of disease progression do they only realise that they are HIV positive. The central focus remains that we continue to mobilise an increased uptake in HIV testing and counseling, behaviour change communication and combination prevention and treatment.

For more contextual information about HIV/AIDS in South Africa click here: Useful Links

What is the prevalence of HIV in South Africa?

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region worst-affected by HIV and AIDS.  HIV/AIDS in South Africa is a prominent health concern; South Africa has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS compared to any other country in the world with 5,6 million people living with HIV, and 270,000 HIV related deaths recorded in 2011.  (UNAIDS)

The HIV prevalence for South Africa is the percentage of people that are HIV positive in the population out of the total population at a given point in time. One of the main HIV statistics for South Africa is that by the middle of 2017, 12.6% of the population, that is 7.06 million people are HIV positive.1Statistics South Africa  Mid-year population estimates 2017 www.statssa.gov.za

There are 1.86 million more People Living with HIV (PLHIV) than in 2008, when the percentage was 10.6, that is 5.2 million people. The increased prevalence of HIV in 2017 is largely due to the combined effect of new infections, and a successfully expanded ARV treatment programme, which has increased survival among people living with HIV.

Looking at the total population, the prevalence in women aged 15-49 is 21.17%, the prevalence in adults aged 15-49 is 17.98% and the prevalence among youth aged 15-24 is 4.64%.2Statistics South Africa  Mid-year population estimates 2017 www.statssa.gov.za

Overall women had a significant higher HIV prevalence than men. The prevalence of HIV was highest among women aged 30-34 and among men aged 35-39. In the teenage population the estimated HIV prevalence among women was eight times that of their male equivalents. This suggests that female teenagers aged 15-19 are more likely than their male equivalents to have sex, not with people in the same age group, but with older sex partners. In the age group 30-35 over one third of all women were estimated to be HIV positive.

 

Why is the South African HIV/AIDS prevalence so high?

Many factors contribute to the spread of HIV. These include: poverty; inequality and social instability; high levels of sexually transmitted infections; the low status of women; sexual violence; high mobility (particularly migrant labour); limited and uneven access to quality medical care; and a history of poor leadership in the response to the epidemic.

Research shows high levels of knowledge about the means of transmission of HIV and understanding of methods of prevention. However, this does not translate into HIV-preventive behaviour. Behaviour change and social change are long-term processes, and the factors that predispose people to infection – such as poverty and inequality, patriarchy and illiteracy – cannot be addressed in the short term. Vulnerability to, and the impact of, the epidemic is proving to be most catastrophic at community and household level.

How has this affected the everyday lives of South Africans?

The hardship for those infected and their families begins long before people die. Stigma and denial related to suspected infection cause many people to delay or refuse testing; fear and despair often follow diagnosis, due to poor-quality counselling and lack of support; poverty prevents many infected people from maintaining adequate nutrition to help prevent the onset of illness; limited access to clinics, waiting lists for ARV treatment programmes and eligibility criteria for access to ARVs mean that many people become seriously ill before accessing treatment; loss of income and support when a breadwinner or caregiver becomes ill, and the diversion of household resources to provide care exacerbate poverty; the burden upon family members, particularly children and older people caring for terminally ill adults, and the trauma of bereavement and orphan hood compromise the physical and mental well-being of entire households. This all happens in a society where the majority of children live in poverty and more than 25% of the economically active population is unemployed.

Women face a greater risk of HIV infection. On average in South Africa there are three women infected with HIV for every two men who are infected. The difference is greatest in the 15-24 age group, where three young women for every one young man are infected.

However, South Africa has made positive strides in managing the HIV and AIDS epidemic since the end of 2008. The numbers of people on antiretroviral treatment has increased dramatically to   1 900 000 and there were 100 000 fewer Aids-related deaths in 2011 than in 2005.

What are the proposed solutions?

For many years, the burden of care and support has fallen heavily on the shoulders of impoverished rural communities, where sick family members return when they can no longer work or care for themselves. Community-based care has been promoted as the best option since it would be impossible to care properly for hundreds of thousands of people dying from AIDS in public hospitals. The resilience and capacity to care for dying people and provide for those they leave behind in impoverished communities is extremely overstretched. There remains an acute need for social protection and interventions to support the most vulnerable communities and households affected by this epidemic. The challenge we still face is that people are not testing timeously therefore only once they are very ill at quite a late stage of disease progression do they only realise that they are HIV positive. The central focus remains that we continue to mobilise an increased uptake in HIV testing and counseling, behaviour change communication and combination prevention and treatment.

For more contextual information about HIV/AIDS in South Africa click here: Useful Links

Source: https://www.aids.org.za/hivaids-in-south-afric

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16 Days of Activism Against the Domestic Violence and Abuse of Women and Children

Domestic Violence Poster 2017

 

South Africa has one of the highest incidences of domestic violence in the world. And, sadly, domestic violence is the most common and widespread human rights abuse in South Africa. Every day, women are murdered, physically and sexually assaulted, threatened and humiliated by their partners, within their own homes.

Organisations estimate that one out of every six woman in South Africa is regularly assaulted by her partner. In at least 46 per cent of cases, the men involved also abuse the children living with the woman. Although the exact percentages are disputed, there is a large body of cross-cultural evidence that women are subjected to domestic violence significantly more than men.

In addition, there is broad consensus that women are more often subjected to severe forms of abuse and are more likely to be injured by an abusive partner. Determining how many instances of domestic violence actually involve male victims is difficult. Some studies have shown that women who assault their male partners are more likely to avoid arrest even when the male victim contacts the police.

Another study concluded that female perpetrators are viewed by law enforcement as the victims rather than the actual offenders of violence against men. Other studies have also demonstrated a high degree of community acceptance of aggression against men by women. Domestic violence also occurs in same-sex relationships. Gay and lesbian relationships have been identified as risk factors for abuse in certain populations. Historically, domestic violence has been seen as a family issue and little interest has been directed at violence in same-sex relationships.

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviour that transgresses the right of citizens to be free from violence. When one partner in a relationship harms the other to obtain or maintain power and control over them, regardless of whether they are married or unmarried, living together or apart, that is domestic violence. The ‘harm’ can take a variety of forms, whether it be from verbal abuse like shouting, emotional abuse like manipulation, control and/or humiliation, physical abuse like hitting and/or punching, and/or sexual abuse like rape and/or inappropriate touching of either the woman or her children. Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 Domestic violence is regulated by the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998.

The Act was introduced in 1998 with the purpose of affording women protection from domestic violence by creating obligations on law enforcement bodies, such as the South African Police Service (SAPS), to protect victims as far as possible. The Act attempts to provide victims of domestic violence with an accessible legal instrument with which to prevent further abuses taking place within their domestic relationships.

The Act recognises that domestic violence is a serious crime against our society, and extends the definition of domestic violence to include not only married women and their children, but also unmarried women who are involved in relationships or living with their partners, people in same-sex relationships, mothers and their sons, and other people who share a living space.

Types of domestic violence Domestic violence can take a variety of forms and generally includes the following acts: Physical abuse Any act or threat of physical violence intended to cause physical pain, injury, suffering or bodily harm. Physical abuse can include hitting, slapping, punching, choking, pushing and any other type of contact that results in physical injury to the victim. Physical abuse can also include behaviours such as denying the victim medical care when needed, depriving the victim of sleep or other functions necessary to live, or forcing the victim to engage in drug/alcohol use against his/her will. It can also include inflicting physical injury onto other targets, such as children or pets, in order to cause psychological harm to the victim. Sexual abuse Any conduct that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the sexual integrity of the victim. Sexual abuse is any situation in which force or threat is used to obtain participation in unwanted sexual activity.

Coercing a person to engage in sexual activity against their will, even if that person is a spouse or intimate partner with whom consensual sex has occurred previously, is an act of aggression and violence. Sexual violence is defined by the World Health Organization as: any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work. Marital rape, also known as spousal rape, is non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim’s spouse. As such, it is a form of partner rape, and amounts to domestic violence and sexual abuse. Marital rape has been described as one of the most serious violations of a women’s bodily integrity and yet it is a term that many people still have a problem comprehending, with some still describing it as a ‘contradiction in terms’.

Emotional, verbal and psychological abuse Usually a pattern of degrading or humiliating conduct towards the victim privately or publicly, including repeated insults, ridicule, name calling and/or repeated threats to cause emotional pain; or the repeated exhibition of obsessive possessiveness or jealousy, which is such as to constitute a serious invasion of the victim’s privacy, liberty, integrity and/or security. Other acts that fall under emotional abuse include controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, implicitly blackmailing the victim by harming others when the victim expresses independence or happiness, and denying the victim access to money or other basic resources and necessities.

Emotional abuse includes conflicting actions or statements that are designed to confuse and create insecurity in the victim. These behaviours lead victims to question themselves, causing them to believe that they are making up the abuse or that the abuse is their fault. Emotional abuse also includes forceful efforts to isolate the victim, to keep them from contacting friends or family. This is intended to eliminate those who might try to help the victim leave the relationship and to create a lack of resources for the victim to rely on if they were to leave.

Isolation eventually damages the victim’s sense of internal strength, leaving them feeling helpless and unable to escape from the situation. Women and men undergoing emotional abuse often suffer from depression, which puts them at increased risk for suicide, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse. Economic abuse Includes the unreasonable deprivation of economic or financial resources to which the victim is entitled under law or requires out of necessity, including household necessities, mortgage bond repayments, rent money in the case of a shared residence, and/or the unreasonable disposal of household effects or other property in which the victim has an interest. Economic abuse may involve preventing a victim from resource acquisition, limiting the amount of resources available to him/her, or exploiting the victim’s economic resources.

The motive behind preventing a victim from acquiring resources is to diminish his/her capacity to support him/herself, thus forcing the victim to depend on the perpetrator financially. In this way, the perpetrator can prevent the victim from obtaining education, finding employment, maintaining or advancing a career and acquiring assets. The abuser may also put the victim on an allowance and closely monitor how he/she spends money. Sometimes the abuser will spend the victim’s money without his/her consent and create debt, or even completely spend the victim’s savings to limit available resources. Intimidation Uttering or conveying a threat, or causing a victim to receive a threat, which induces fear.

The abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare the victim into submission. Such tactics may include smashing things in front of the victim, destroying property, hurting the victim’s pets or showing off a weapon. The clear message is that if the victim doesn’t obey, there might be violent consequences. Harassment Engaging in a pattern of conduct that induces a fear of harm in the victim, including repeatedly watching the victim; loitering outside of or near the building/place where the victim resides, works, carries out business, studies or happens to be; repeatedly making telephone calls or inducing another person to make telephone calls to the victim, whether or not conversation ensues; repeatedly sending, delivering or causing the delivery of letters, emails, texts, packages or other objects to the victim.

Stalking There is no real legal definition of stalking. Neither is there any specific legislation to address this behaviour. The term is used to define a particular kind of harassment. Generally, it refers to a long-term pattern of persistent and repetitive contact with, or attempts to contact, a particular victim. Examples of the types of conduct often associated with stalking include: direct communication; physical following; indirect contact through friends, work colleagues, family or technology (email or SMS); and other intrusions into the victim’s privacy. The abuse may also take place on social networks like Facebook, on-line forums, Twitter, instant messaging, SMS, BBM or via chat software. The stalker may use websites to post offensive material, create fake profiles or even make a dedicated website about the victim. Damage to property

  • Wilful damaging or destruction of property belonging to the victim or in which the victim has a vested interest.
  • Entry into property
  • Entry into the victim’s residence without consent, where the parties do not share the same residence.
  • Any other controlling or abusive behaviour

Any conduct that harms, or may cause imminent harm to, the safety, health or well being of the victim. ‘Imminent harm’ includes situations where:

  • the perpetrator is in the possession of a firearm and has threatened to use the firearm against the victim, or her dependants or other family members;
  • the perpetrator has used a weapon against the victim in previous incidences of domestic violence (not restricted to dangerous weapons, such as firearms or knives);
  • the victim was critically injured by the perpetrator on a previous occasion, or on the occasion in question;
  • the victim and her children have been ‘kicked out’ of the shared residence by the perpetrator or anyone affiliated with him;
  • the victim has sufficient evidence (i.e. witness statements) that the perpetrator has threatened to harm her; and
  • the victim fears for the safety of her children.

The protection order A protection order, also called a restraining order or domestic violence interdict, is a court order that tells an abuser to stop the abuse and sets certain conditions preventing the abuser from harassing or abusing the victim again. It may also help ensure that the abuser continues to pay rent or a bond or interim maintenance. The protection order may also prevent the abuser from getting help from any other person to commit abusive acts. Helpful organisations: FAMSA has offices nationwide and gives counselling to the abused and their families. To find your nearest FAMSA branch, call 011 975 7101, email national@famsa.org.za or visit their website http://www.famsa.org.za. Lifeline provides 24-hour counselling services. Call the SA National Counselling Line on 0861 322 322. People Opposing Women Abuse or POWA provides telephonic, counselling and legal support to women experiencing abuse. POWA also accompanies women to court and assists them in filling out documents. Call the POWA helpline on 083 765 1235 or visit http://www.powa.co.za. Legal Aid South Africa offers legal assistance. To locate your nearest Justice Centre, call 0861 053 425 or visit http://www.legal-aid.co.za. Rape Crisis offers free confidential counselling to people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Call 011 642 4345. SAPS 10111 University campus law clinics also offer legal assistance.

Steps to obtain a protection order: Apply for a protection order at a Magistrates Court nearest to where you live and work, at any time, during and outside court hours as well as on public holidays or weekends. First, apply for the Interim Protection Order by completing Form 6: Interim Protection Order at your nearest Magistrate’s Court or High Court.  Once you have applied for the Interim Protection Order, complete Form 2: Application for Protection Order at your nearest Magistrate’s Court or High Court. The application must be made by way of an affidavit which states the:

  • facts on which the application is based
  • nature of the order
  • name of the police station where the complainant is likely to report any breach of the protection order.

Where the application is brought on behalf of a complainant by another person, the affidavit must state the:

  • grounds on which the other person has a material interest in the well-being of the complainant
  • occupation of the other person and capacity in which such a person brings the application
  • written consent of the complainant, except in cases where the complainant is a minor, mentally retarded, unconscious or a person whom the court is satisfied that he or she is unable to provide the required consent.

On receipt of the form, the clerk will send your application to the magistrate who will then set a date for you to return to court, so that your application can be considered. The magistrate will also prepare a notice to inform the abuser about the protection order and when he or she should come to court.  After the court appearance, the magistrate may grant the protection order.
Forms:

 

Source: http://www.justice.gov.za/

Burnout Prevention and Treatment

Techniques for Dealing with Overwhelming Stress

If constant stress has you feeling helpless, disillusioned, and completely exhausted, you may be on the road to burnout. When you’re burned out, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care—let alone do something to help yourself. The unhappiness and detachment that burnout causes can threaten your job, your relationships, and your health. But by recognizing the earliest warning signs, you can take steps to prevent burnout. Or if you’ve already hit breaking point, there are plenty of things you can do to regain your balance and start to feel positive and hopeful again.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

The effects of burnout

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home, work, and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.

Are you on the road to burnout?

You may be on the road to burnout if:

  • Everyday is a bad day.
  • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.
  • You’re exhausted all the time.
  • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.
  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

Signs and symptoms of burnout

Most of us have days when we feel helpless, overloaded, or unappreciated—when dragging ourselves out of bed requires the determination of Hercules. If you feel like this most of the time, however, you may have burnout.

Burnout is a gradual process. The signs and symptoms are subtle at first, but they get worse as time goes on. Think of the early symptoms as red flags that something is wrong that needs to be addressed. If you pay attention and act to reduce your stress, you can prevent a major breakdown. If you ignore them, you’ll eventually burn out.

Physical signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time
  • Lowered immunity, getting sick a lot
  • Frequent headaches or muscle pain
  • Change in appetite or sleep habits

Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Sense of failure and self-doubt
  • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated
  • Detachment, feeling alone in the world
  • Loss of motivation
  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook
  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment

Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done
  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
  • Taking out your frustrations on others
  • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

The difference between stress and burnout

Burnout may be the result of unrelenting stress, but it isn’t the same as too much stress. Stress, by and large, involves too much: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. Stressed people can still imagine, though, that if they can just get everything under control, they’ll feel better.

Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough. Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up. And while you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens.

Stress vs. Burnout
Stress Burnout
Characterized by over engagement Characterized by disengagement
Emotions are overreactive Emotions are blunted
Produces urgency and hyperactivity Produces helplessness and hopelessness
Loss of energy Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope
Leads to anxiety disorders Leads to detachment and depression
Primary damage is physical Primary damage is emotional
May kill you prematurely May make life seem not worth living
Source: Stress and Burnout in Ministry

Causes of burnout

Burnout often stems from your job. But anyone who feels overworked and undervalued is at risk for burnout—from the hardworking office worker who hasn’t had a vacation in years, to the frazzled stay-at-home mom struggling to care for kids, housework, and an aging parent.

Your lifestyle and personality traits can also contribute to burnout. What you do in your downtime and how you look at the world can play just as big of a role in causing burnout as work or home demands.

Work-related causes of burnout

  • Feeling like you have little or no control over your work
  • Lack of recognition or reward for good work
  • Unclear or overly demanding job expectations
  • Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging
  • Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment

Lifestyle causes of burnout

  • Working too much, without enough time for socializing or relaxing
  • Lack of close, supportive relationships
  • Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others
  • Not getting enough sleep

Personality traits can contribute to burnout

  • Perfectionistic tendencies; nothing is ever good enough
  • Pessimistic view of yourself and the world
  • The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others
  • High-achieving, Type A personality

Sound familiar?

Whether you recognize the warning signs of impending burnout or you’re already past the breaking point, trying to push through the exhaustion and continuing as you have been will only cause further emotional and physical damage. Now is the time to pause and change direction by learning how you can help yourself overcome burnout and feel healthy and positive again.

To deal with burnout, turn to other people

When you’re on the road to burnout, you can feel helpless. But you have a lot more control over stress than you may think. There are positive steps you can take to deal with burnout and get your life back into balance. One of the most effective is to reach out to others.

Social contact is nature’s antidote to stress

Talking face to face with a good listener is one of the fastest ways to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to “fix” your stressors; they just have to be a good listener, someone who’ll listen attentively without being distracted or judging you.

Opening up won’t make you a burden to others. In fact, most friends and loved ones will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your friendship.

Tips for combating burnout with positive relationships

Invest in your closest relationships, such as those with your partner, children or friends. Try to put aside what’s burning you out and make the time you spend with loved ones positive and enjoyable.

Try to be more sociable with your co-workers. Developing friendships with people you work with can help buffer you from job burnout. When you take a break, for example, instead of directing your attention to your smart phone, try engaging your colleagues. Or schedule social events together after work.

Limit your contact with negative people. Hanging out with negative-minded people who do nothing but complain will only drag down your mood and outlook. If you have to work with a negative person, try to limit the amount of time you have to spend together.

Connect with a cause or a community group that is personally meaningful to you. Joining a religious, social, or support group can give you a place to talk to like-minded people about how to deal with daily stress — and to make new friends. If your line of work has a professional association, you can attend meetings and interact with others coping with the same workplace demands.

If you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and expand your social network.

The power of giving

Being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure and can help to significantly reduce stress as well as broaden your social circle.

While it’s important not to take on too much when you’re facing burnout, helping others doesn’t have to involve a lot of time or effort. Even small things like a kind word or friendly smile can make you feel good and help lower stress—for you and the other person.

Reframe the way you look at work

Whether you have a job that leaves you rushed off your feet or one that is monotonous and unfulfilling, the most effective way to combat job burnout is to quit and find a job you love instead. Of course, for many of us changing job or career is far from being a practical solution—we’re grateful just to have work to pay the bills. Whatever your situation, though, there are still things you can do to improve your state of mind.

Try to find some value in what you do. Even in some mundane jobs, you can often focus on how what you do helps others, for example, or provides a much-needed product or service. Focus on aspects of the job that you do enjoy—even if it’s just chatting with your coworkers at lunch. Changing your attitude towards your job can help you regain a sense of purpose and control.

Find balance in your life. If you hate your job, look for meaning and satisfaction elsewhere in your life: in your family, friends, hobbies, or voluntary work. Focus on the parts of your life that bring you joy.

Make friends at work. Having strong ties in the workplace can help reduce monotony and counter the effects of burnout. Having friends to chat and joke with during the day can help relieve stress from an unfulfilling or demanding job, improve your job performance, or simply get you through a rough day.

Take time off. If burnout seems inevitable, try to take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absence—anything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and pursue other burnout recovery steps.

Re-evaluate priorities

Burnout is an undeniable sign that something important in your life is not working. Take time to think about your hopes, goals, and dreams. Are you neglecting something that is truly important to you? Burnout can be an opportunity to rediscover what really makes you happy and to slow down and give yourself time to rest, reflect, and heal.

Set boundaries. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do.

Take a daily break from technology. Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email.

Nourish your creative side. Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favorite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work.

Set aside relaxation time. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response.

Get plenty of sleep. Feeling tired can exacerbate burnout by causing you to think irrationally. Keep your cool in stressful situations by getting a good night’s sleep.

Boost your ability to stay on task

If you’re having trouble following through with these self-help tips to prevent or overcome burnout, HelpGuide’s free emotional intelligence toolkit can help.

  • Learn how to reduce stress in the moment.
  • Manage troublesome thoughts and feelings.
  • Motivate yourself to take the steps that can relieve stress and burnout.
  • Improve your relationships at work and home.
  • Rediscover joy and meaning that make work—and life—worthwhile.
  • Increase your overall health and happiness.

Make exercise a priority

Even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re burned out, exercise is a powerful antidote to stress and burnout. It’s also something you can do right now to boost your mood.

  • Aim to exercise for 30 minutes or more per day—or break that up into short, 10-minute bursts of activity. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours.
  • Rhythmic exercise—where you move both your arms and legs—is a hugely effective way to lift your mood, increase energy, sharpen focus, and relax both the mind and body. Try walking, running, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or even dancing.
  • To maximize stress relief, instead of continuing to focus on your thoughts, focus on your body and how it feels as you move—the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the wind on your skin.

Support your mood and energy levels by eating a healthy diet

What you put in your body can have a huge impact on your mood and energy levels throughout the day.

Minimize sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these high-carbohydrate foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy.

Reduce your high intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, trans fats, and foods with chemical preservatives or hormones.

Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost. The best sources are fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines), seaweed, flaxseed, and walnuts.

Avoid nicotine. Smoking when you’re feeling stressed may seem calming, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant, leading to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety.

Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol temporarily reduces worry, but too much can cause anxiety as it wears off.

 

 

 

World Trauma Day 2017

 

World Trauma Day 2017

How to COPE with trauma

The 17th of October marks World Trauma Day – a day dedicated to acknowledging the impact of traumatic events, as well as creating awareness around its prevention and treatment. With one of the highest crime rates in the world, South Africans are no strangers to trauma. Stats reveal that on average 329 people are murdered each week, 53 houses are robbed daily, and six cases of rape are reported every hour.

“These high levels of violence and crime take a heavy toll on South Africans, affecting mental, emotional and physical health. Even a perceived threat remains a potent stressor, with direct physiological and behavioural consequences,’ says Dr Ali Hamdulay from Metropolitan’s health division.

Added to this is the financial impact trauma has on us. Dealing with physical and emotional trauma –such as hospitalisation or seeking psychiatric care – can place a massive strain on one’s resources. “When dealing with trauma, it helps if your financial situation is in good stead because the last thing you need is to worry about money as well,” says Cebisa Mfenyana from Metropolitan’s retail division.

Fortunately, there are tools that we can employ to effectively manage trauma and its emotional and financial toll on us. “COPE is a technique that can help us to deal with trauma and ensure that we are equipped to face any eventuality,” says Cebisa.

How to COPE:

C is for ‘confide’: Acknowledge and speak about traumatic experiences: “Although painful to relive, expressing what has happened to you and how you are feeling – whether verbally, written or even through a creative outlet – can be very therapeutic,” says Dr Hamdulay. “It allows one to deal with, understand and work through their emotions.”

O is for ‘own your health’: Excessive stress is a common side-effect of trauma, but it can be managed or minimised by our behaviour. “Try to eat healthy balanced meals, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. While it won’t make what transpired disappear, it will help the problem not to be exacerbated, enabling us to better deal with the trauma. Avoid alcohol and any other stimulants – while they may help you feel better at the time, they will worsen the situation in the long run,” says Dr Hamdulay.

P is for ‘prepare’: Many traumatic events result in physical harm and require hospitalisation and sometimes even out-of-hospital recovery specialists. It is important to understand what your medical aid covers. “Getting hospital cover can also help cover unexpected costs associated with being hospitalised, such as childcare while you recover from the trauma” says Cebisa.

E is for ‘eventuality’: Be prepared for what comes after the traumatic event. Some traumatic events may result in disability or require a certain period of rest. “Disability cover ensures that you get a specified amount if you suffer a disability and you can no longer work. The disability cover pay out ensures that you and your family have a financial safety net so that you are able to help pay the bills,” says Cebisa. “If your work environment is at higher risk of exposure to trauma-inducing incidents, for example, mining or rescue workers, then this type of cover is very important. Speak to a financial adviser to help customise your disability cover to your unique needs, ensuring that it fits your pocket, too.”

Trauma

 

Breast Cancer Month 2017

An Overview of Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Month 2017

By Jean Campbell, MS | Reviewed by a board-certified physician

Breast cancer occurs as normal cells in tissue start to grow and divide in an out of control manner. As they grow, the cells often, but not always, form a tumor in the breast that can be detected in a mammogram before it can be felt as a lump or thickening.

It is important to note that not all lumps in the breast are breast cancer, and not all breast cancers present with a lump. However, all lumps or thickenings in the breast need medical attention to determine whether they are one of many benign lumps that can occur in the breast or are truly a cancer.

Breast cancer is not a single disease; research evidence continues to indicate that there are a number of subtypes of breast cancer. They happen at varying rates in different groups and respond differently to treatments. Some are more aggressive than others and have very different long-term survival rates.

Common Breast Cancers

Breast cancer most often originates in the breast ducts that carry milk to the nipple.

These types, called ductal cancers, account for about 80 percent of all breast cancers. Lobular cancer begins in the glands (lobules) that produce breast milk and accounts for about 8 percent of all breast cancers.

When a cancer is confined within a breast duct or the cells of the lobules it is called in situ, meaning ‘in site.’ Cancers that break through the wall of a duct or the cells of the lobules and spread into the surrounding breast tissue are described as invasive or infiltrating breast cancers.

Other Breast Cancers

Inflammatory breast cancer is considered a rare but aggressive cancer that presents without a lump and results in the affected breast(s) having a swollen, red, or inflamed appearance.

Paget’s disease of the breast, which is also rare, involves the skin of the nipple and, usually, the darker circle of skin around the nipple.

Metastatic breast cancer, which is also known as stage IV breast cancer, is a cancer that begins in the breast and spreads to distant organs such as the brain, bones, lungs, and liver. About 6 percent to 8 percent of women and men are metastatic when first diagnosed. Metastatic cancer, when it occurs, is usually diagnosed months to years after being treated for an early stage cancer.

Who Gets Breast Cancer?

If you have breast tissue, you can develop a breast cancer. While primarily occurring in women, with 1 in 8 women in the United States developing an invasive breast cancer during her lifetime, men do get breast cancer too.

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women living in the United States; unfortunately, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, with the exception of lung cancer.

Article

The Voices of Male Breast Cancer

Article

The Nipple, Areola, and Montgomery Glands Make up the Outer Breast

 

According to the National Cancer Institute, the incidence of breast cancer is highest in white women for most age groups, followed by African-American/black, Hispanic/Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native women.

African-American women have higher breast cancer incidence rates before 40 years of age, and higher rates of dying from breast cancer than women of any other racial/ethnic group in the United States at every age. Hispanic/Latina women tend to get breast cancer at a younger age than non-Hispanic white women.

Factors That Increase the Risk of Developing Breast Cancer

Aging: A woman’s chances of getting breast cancer increase as she ages.

Family History: A woman who has a mother, sister, or daughter diagnosed with breast cancer has double the risk of developing breast cancer than a woman who does not have a first-degree relative that was diagnosed with the disease. Note: About 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer.

Genetics: Five percent to 10 percent of all breast cancers can be linked to women and men with gene mutations that were inherited from their mother or father. The BRCA 1 and 2 genes are the most common. Having either of these mutations substantially increases the lifetime risk of breast cancer. These mutations also carry an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women.

Dense Breasts: Women who have a high percentage of breast tissue that appears dense on a mammogram have a higher risk of breast cancer than women of similar age who have little or no dense breast tissue. Abnormalities in dense breasts, such as tumors, can be more difficult to detect on a mammogram.

Race: In the United States, breast cancer is diagnosed more often in white women and least often in Alaska Native women.

Behaviors That Increase the Risk for Developing Breast Cancer

Weight: Studies have found that the chance of getting breast cancer is higher in postmenopausal women who have not used menopausal hormone therapy and who are significantly overweight compared to peers who are of a healthy weight.

Article

Does a False Positive Mammogram Indicate Future Breast Cancer?

 

Article

What to Know About Breast Cancer Symptoms

 

Smoking: Researchers at the American Cancer Society found an increased risk for breast cancer among women who smoke, especially those who started to smoke before having their first child.

Alcohol: The National Cancer Institute reports that over 100 studies document an increased risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol consumption.

Inactive Lifestyle: Women who are physically inactive throughout life may have an increased risk of breast cancer.

What Should You Know to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Remember that noticing these symptoms may not mean that breast cancer is to blame. That said, if you are experiencing any, it’s important to bring them to your doctor’s attention.

  • A breast lump
  • Breast pain: That said, breast cancer is usually painless during its early stages. Pain in the breast can be caused by a number of different non-cancerous breast conditions.
  • A noticeable change in the size or shape of a breast
  • Dimpling of skin on part of the breast (like an orange peel)
  • Redness or a rash-like appearance to the skin on the breast: It may resemble mastitis, an infection in the breast, which usually affects women who are breastfeeding.
  • Flaky or crusty looking skin around the nipple
  • Inward turning nipple
  • Nipple discharge (perhaps with blood)

How Breast Cancer Is Diagnosed

A routine mammogram or the results of a physical exam may indicate something suspicious for breast cancer. The only way to confirm a diagnosis of breast cancer is to do a biopsy and take a sample of the tissue from the area in question. The sample needs to be examined under a microscope by a pathologist who is a medical doctor to check for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, the pathologist will assess the characteristics of the cancer and write a report on the findings.

The type of biopsy you get depends on several factors, including the tumor’s size and location, and how concerned your doctor is about it. Options include:

  • Fine Needle Aspiration: The procedure is performed by a breast surgeon or radiologist using a thin needle with a hollow center to extract a sample of cells from the area in question.
  • Core Needle Biopsy: This type of biopsy uses a larger hollow needle than one used in a fine needle aspiration to remove tissue samples.
  • Surgical Biopsy: During this biopsy, the surgeon uses a scalpel to cut through the skin to remove a piece of the tissue in question to be examined by the pathologist.

Explore our Breast Cancer Diagnosis section for more in-depth information on tests and screenings.

How Breast Cancer Is Treated

While there are several options for the treatment of breast cancer, the kind and amount used for a particular case is determined by the type of cancer and extent to which it has spread. Usually, a woman or man diagnosed with breast cancer will receive more than one treatment.

  • Surgery: Most breast cancer patients have surgery to remove their cancer. Those with an early breast cancer often have the option of having breast conserving surgery to remove the lump and a margin of tissue surrounding the lump. This surgery is usually followed by radiation therapy.
  • Chemotherapy: When treatment requires a systemic approach to kill cancer cells that may have traveled beyond the breast or to shrink tumors prior to surgery, patients are treated with chemotherapy, which are special drugs that are taken in pill form or administered into a vein.
  • Hormonal Therapy: An oral medication that blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow. It is frequently given to women and men following active treatment to prevent a recurrence.
  • Biological Therapy: Treatment that helps a patient’s immune system fight cancer cells.
  • Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. The treatment is usually administered Monday through Friday for several weeks. Treatments are brief and painless.

Our Breast Cancer Treatment section delves into each of these in greater detail, and it’s a great place to start if you’re exploring options.

Early Detection and Intervention

Finding and treating breast cancer while it is still an early stage cancer, before it spreads beyond the breast and through the lymphatic system, offers the best possible prognosis.

Women and men with an early stage cancer are often candidates for breast conserving surgery, such as a lumpectomy, and may not need to have chemotherapy treatments.

Early detection requires:

  • Knowing what your breasts normally look and feel like, and reporting any changes or symptoms to your physician
  • Seeing your physician annually for a comprehensive breast exam
  • If you are under 40 years of age and have a family history of breast cancer, speaking with your physician as to when you need to begin annual mammograms and discuss the need for genetic counseling
  • If you are over 40 with no family history of breast cancer, getting regular mammograms. Note: Mammograms can detect a breast cancer years before it can be felt, while it is easier to treat.

­

There are more than 3 million of us in the United States today that once heard the words, “You have breast cancer.” We are living proof that breast cancer can be successfully treated. When breast cancer is caught at an early stage, it can be treated more conservatively and result in a shorter recovery time.

Sources:

American Cancer Society. What is Breast Cancer? Medical Review: 09/25/2014. Revised: May 4, 2016.

Centers for Disease Control. Risk Factors for Young Women. Reviewed: March 13, 2014 Updated: March 13, 2014.

National Cancer Institute. A Snapshot of Breast Cancer. Posted: November 5, 2014

 

 

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/about-breast-cancer

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/what-is-breast-cancer

https://www.verywell.com/breast-cancer-4014752

Heritage Day 2017

Heritage Day 2017

The first Heritage Day was instituted in 1995, after the first free elections that spelled the end of apartheid and the beginning of a new, non-racially based democracy.

The roots of Heritage day, however, precede 1995. The 24th of September was originally simply a Zulu holiday celebrated in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. It was a remembrance to Shaka, the great chief who united the Zulu tribes into a unified nation. When a bill was being passed in 1995 by the South African parliament to establish South Africa’s official public holidays, the Zulus objected that “Shaka Day” was not included. A compromise finally kept the date but broadened the meaning to include celebration of the heritage of all South African peoples. Thus, it was renamed “Heritage Day”.

The official government definition of the “heritage” in “Heritage Day” counts it to include all that the people inherit, such as culture, history, wildlife, monuments, artwork, literature, music, folklore, languages, culinary traditions, and more. In 1996, president Nelson Mandela declared that Heritage Day would help South Africans use their “rich and varied cultural heritage“ to “build our new nation.” Each year, the government declares a special theme for that year’s Heritage Day. In 1995, for example, the theme was on Enoch Sontonga, the author of South Africa’s national anthem. His grave was declared a new national monument, and his music and life were remembered.

Should you be in South Africa for Heritage Day, you will be able to hear the president’s speech on television, learn much about the cultural heritage of various South African peoples, and enjoy the beauty of the land. Some specific things to do in South Africa on Heritage Day include:

·         Attend a “braais”, if you can get the invitation. “Braais” is the Afrikaans word for “grill or barbecue.” “Braaivleis” means “grilled or barbecued meat.” These potluck-like party dinners are indulged in all across the country every Heritage Day. It is a little like a Fourth of July picnic in the United States. Family and friends gather to grill meats, such as boerewors (a kind of sausage), kebabs, lamb chops, pork, chicken, steak, and ribs. You will also find fish and rock lobster (“kreef”) in coastal towns and pap (cornmeal porridge) in almost every town.

·         Visit Hout Bay for the reenactment of the Battle of Hout Bay held there around this time every year. The battle took place in 1795 between a British frigate in the bay and the coastal cannons and fortifications of the Dutch and French defenders. Although the British failed to take the fort at this time, they later took it and all Cape Colony with it. Afterward, they further strengthened the fort at Hout Bay.

·         Tour sites associated with Nelson Mandela’s life and career. There are many, but some of the most important ones include: the Robben Island Museum, on the island where Mandela was once held as a prisoner; the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha and Qunu, dedicated to youth and heritage themes; the Mandela House Museum in Soweto, where Mandela and his family lived for many years; and Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg, where you can take photographs with his gigantic statute.

·         See The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg or the similar District Six Museum in Cape Town, both of which reveal the realities of the apartheid era. The contrast between then and now is stark and very much “on topic” when it comes to the purpose of Heritage Day.

·         See the world’s largest free-flight aviary in Plettenberg Bay. This is a part of the “natural heritage” of South Africa. It is a mesh dome built over the top of nearly 6 acres of natural forest. Inside, there are literally thousands of bird species.

South Africa has a rich and diverse heritage, and scheduling your visit for Heritage Day is one of the best ways to appreciate it. The history, people, and wildlife of South Africa hold endless variety, and you will never regret the trip.

 

Suicide Prevention

 

How to Help Someone who is Suicidal and Save a Life

1

A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. People who take their lives don’t want to die—they just want to stop hurting. Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. But talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.

Understanding suicide

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide. What drives so many individuals to take their own lives? To those not in the grips of suicidal depression and despair, it’s difficult to understand what drives so many individuals to take their own lives. But a suicidal person is in so much pain that he or she can see no other option.

Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness, and isolation, a suicidal person can’t see any way of finding relief except through death. But despite their desire for the pain to stop, most suicidal people are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to suicide, but they just can’t see one.

Common misconceptions about suicide
Myth: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.

Fact: Almost everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Don’t ignore even indirect references to death or suicide. Statements like “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” “I can’t see any way out,” — no matter how casually or jokingly said, may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

Myth: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.

Fact: Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.

Myth: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them.

Fact: Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

Myth: People who die by suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.

Fact: Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.

Myth: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.

Fact: You don’t give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true—bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

Source: SAVE – Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

Warning signs of suicide

Take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide—it’s a cry for help.

Most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their intentions. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize these warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing that you care, and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.

Major warning signs for suicide include talking about killing or harming oneself, talking or writing a lot about death or dying, and seeking out things that could be used in a suicide attempt, such as weapons and drugs. These signals are even more dangerous if the person has a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder, suffers from alcohol dependence, has previously attempted suicide, or has a family history of suicide.

A more subtle but equally dangerous warning sign of suicide is hopelessness. Studies have found that hopelessness is a strong predictor of suicide. People who feel hopeless may talk about “unbearable” feelings, predict a bleak future, and state that they have nothing to look forward to.

Other warning signs that point to a suicidal mind frame include dramatic mood swings or sudden personality changes, such as going from outgoing to withdrawn or well-behaved to rebellious. A suicidal person may also lose interest in day-to-day activities, neglect his or her appearance, and show big changes in eating or sleeping habits.

Suicide warning signs

Talking about suicide – Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…” and “I’d be better off dead.”

Seeking out lethal means – Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

Preoccupation with death – Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.

No hope for the future – Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (“There’s no way out”). Belief that things will never get better or change.

Self-loathing, self-hatred – Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“Everyone would be better off without me”).

Getting affairs in order – Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.

Saying goodbye – Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.

Withdrawing from others – Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.

Self-destructive behavior – Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish.”

Sudden sense of calm – A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to attempt suicide.

Suicide prevention tip 1: Speak up if you’re worried

If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you care about, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to say anything. What if you’re wrong? What if the person gets angry? In such situations, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable or afraid. But anyone who talks about suicide or shows other warning signs needs immediate help—the sooner the better.

Talking to a person about suicide

Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt.

Ways to start a conversation about suicide:

“I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”

“Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”

“I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”

Questions you can ask:

“When did you begin feeling like this?”

“Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?”

“How can I best support you right now?”

“Have you thought about getting help?”

What you can say that helps:

“You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.”

“You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”

“I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”

“When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.”

When talking to a suicidal person

Do:

Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.

Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.

Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.

Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.

Take the person seriously. If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in their head, you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it’s OK for them to share their pain with you.

But don’t:

Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Look on the bright side.”

Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.

Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.

Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.

Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.

Source: Metanoia.org

Tip 2: Respond quickly in a crisis

If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about death or suicide, it’s important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Those at the highest risk for suicide in the near future have a specific suicide PLAN, the MEANS to carry out the plan, a TIME SET for doing it, and an INTENTION to do it.

The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:

  • Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
  • Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (MEANS)
  • Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
  • Do you intend to take your own life? (INTENTION)
Level of Suicide Risk
Low – Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.
Moderate – Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn’t very lethal. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.
High – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.
Severe – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will attempt suicide.

If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, dial 911, or take the person to an emergency room. Remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.

Tip 3: Offer help and support

If a friend or family member is suicidal, the best way to help is by offering an empathetic, listening ear. Let your loved one know that he or she is not alone and that you care. Don’t take responsibility, however, for making your loved one well. You can offer support, but you can’t get better for a suicidal person. He or she has to make a personal commitment to recovery.

It takes a lot of courage to help someone who is suicidal. Witnessing a loved one dealing with thoughts about ending his or her own life can stir up many difficult emotions. As you’re helping a suicidal person, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Find someone that you trust—a friend, family member, clergyman, or counselor—to talk to about your feelings and get support of your own.

Helping a suicidal person:

Get professional help. Do everything in your power to get a suicidal person the help he or she needs. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor’s appointment.

Follow-up on treatment. If the doctor prescribes medication, make sure your friend or loved one takes it as directed. Be aware of possible side effects and be sure to notify the physician if the person seems to be getting worse. It often takes time and persistence to find the medication or therapy that’s right for a particular person.

Be proactive. Those contemplating suicide often don’t believe they can be helped, so you may have to be more proactive at offering assistance. Saying, “Call me if you need anything” is too vague. Don’t wait for the person to call you or even to return your calls. Drop by, call again, invite the person out.

Encourage positive lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and getting out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise is also extremely important as it releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.

Make a safety plan. Help the person develop a set of steps he or she promises to follow during a suicidal crisis. It should identify any triggers that may lead to a suicidal crisis, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Also include contact numbers for the person’s doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.

Remove potential means of suicide, such as pills, knives, razors, or firearms. If the person is likely to take an overdose, keep medications locked away or give out only as the person needs them.

Continue your support over the long haul. Even after the immediate suicidal crisis has passed, stay in touch with the person, periodically checking in or dropping by. Your support is vital to ensure your friend or loved one remains on the recovery track.

 

 

Risk factors

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at least 90 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from one or more mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or alcoholism. Depression in particular plays a large role in suicide. The difficulty suicidal people have imagining a solution to their suffering is due in part to the distorted thinking caused by depression.

Common suicide risk factors include:

  • Mental illness, alcoholism or drug abuse
  • Previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, or history of trauma or abuse
  • Terminal illness or chronic pain, a recent loss or stressful life event
  • Social isolation and loneliness

Antidepressants and suicide

For some, depression medication causes an increase—rather than a decrease—in depression and suicidal thoughts and feelings. Because of this risk, the FDA advises that anyone on antidepressants should be watched for increases in suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Monitoring is especially important if this is the person’s first time on depression medication or if the dose has recently been changed. The risk of suicide is the greatest during the first two months of antidepressant treatment.

Suicide in teens and older adults

In addition to the general risk factors for suicide, both teenagers and older adults are at a higher risk of suicide.

Suicide in teens

Teenage suicide is a serious and growing problem. The teenage years can be emotionally turbulent and stressful. Teenagers face pressures to succeed and fit in. They may struggle with self-esteem issues, self-doubt, and feelings of alienation. For some, this leads to suicide. Depression is also a major risk factor for teen suicide.

Other risk factors for teenage suicide include:

  • Childhood abuse
  • Recent traumatic event
  • Lack of a support network
  • Availability of a gun
  • Hostile social or school environment
  • Exposure to other teen suicides

 

  1. Change in eating and sleeping habits
  2. Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
  3. Violent or rebellious behavior, running away
  4. Drug and alcohol use
  5. Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  6. Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork
  7. Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  8. Not tolerating praise or rewards

Source: American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Suicide in the elderly

The highest suicide rates of any age group occur among persons aged 65 years and older. One contributing factor is depression in the elderly that is undiagnosed and untreated.

Other risk factors for suicide in the elderly include:

  • Recent death of a loved one, isolation and loneliness
  • Physical illness, disability, or pain
  • Major life changes, such as retirement or loss of independence
  • Loss of sense of purpose

Warning signs in older adults

Additional warning signs that an elderly person may be contemplating suicide:

  1. Reading material about death and suicide
  2. Disruption of sleep patterns
  3. Increased alcohol or prescription drug use
  4. Failure to take care of self or follow medical orders
  5. Stockpiling medications or sudden interest in firearms
  6. Social withdrawal, elaborate good-byes, rush to complete or revise a will

Source: University of Florida

Suicide Prevention Day 2017

 

PROCARE Team goes to the 80’s.

We were fortunate to recently attend a retro-team social and we returned to the eighties. The team dressed up in bright colours representing the all colourful eighties era. We were spoiled with good music and a gorgeous potjie, with Biltong nogal, that reminded us of the good times gone by.

 

Potjie Collage