TEXAS, USA – Greetings from America! I’m Lori Vann and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and a Global Authority on the Prevention and Treatment of Self-injury and Suicide. For twenty years, I have been working with self-injury and suicide and I am on a mission to decrease the number of incidents on a global level.
Based on almost 500 cases that I have treated and hundreds of case consults with professional colleagues, I have been able to write four books on the topic; and develop a unique treatment program. The Self-Injury Prevention and Intervention Program (SIPIP©) is designed for schools or treatment centers to directly target the specific areas that are unique to those who self-harm. So that they not only decrease the number of incidents but also reduce the risk that they will seek out another self-destructive behavior.
In addition to being a counselor, program designer, and author, I am also an International Speaker and Media Commentator on Mental Health related issues for television, radio, print, and podcasts.
The International Epidemic Claiming Lives and Limbs
Self-injury and suicide do not discriminate; it doesn’t matter your age, gender, race, your nationality, economic or education level, your politics or religion. Because it is found throughout the world.
It is time to let go of the typical “profile” of someone who harms or has suicidal thoughts. If you have contact with anyone below the age of 18, it is not an “if” it is a “when” you come across at least one person who has self-harmed and/or attempted suicide. It may not be your child, grandchild, or student who does these things, but it will be someone that your loved one does know on a personal or casual level. The question is, how are you going to react at that moment? Your reaction could have more implications than what you realize or intended.
As a parent or grandparent, the idea that your loved one may intentionally try to harm themselves is likely to evoke a variety of emotions. From fear to denial to anger, sadness, and helplessness. You are not alone, there are resources to help you and your loved one.
However, if you do not become educated as to the signs and how to properly respond, you do take the risk of increasing their urges to harm themselves.
The appropriate assessment and response is even more important for school staff, mental health professionals, and those in the medical field. I recently had a parent tell me that because of the information that he learned at one of my talks that it led him to have a discussion with his 10-year old son about self-injury and suicide. Within weeks, his son used the information about warning signs to express concern about a fellow student that ended up potentially saving a classmate’s life.
Dr. Phil, Social Media, and Self-injury
Self-injury and suicide are International epidemics and I am passionate about educating the world concerning these behaviors in order to start turning the tide on both. As a fellow counselor, I knew that Dr. Phil had come across individuals who had either self-harmed in a non-suicidal manner or had attempted suicide. I was interested in his opinion as to why we have seen the increase in both, especially within the last ten years. As well as his thoughts on how we develop a strategy to stop this unacceptable increase in our world.
Many of the thoughts that he shared are ones that I agree with and try to address with clients. In particular, he pointed out the role of social media, technology, and its likely contribution to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Basing self-worth on how many “likes” a person gets is a losing battle. Also contributing to the feelings of emptiness, insecurity, stress, worry, anger, or sadness are the comparison of lives, relationships, appearance, level of financial success, etc. that are often not based in reality.
Being in a room full of individuals from 75 countries is a unique opportunity to have a discussion about mental health. After I interviewed Dr. Phil, there were numerous individuals who shared with me how they had first-hand knowledge of a friend or family member who struggled with both health costing behaviors. Or that it was an issue that was gripping their country.
It was a privilege to be able to have those dialogues with those individuals and for some to be able to give them a copy of my first book in order for them to take it back to their country to plant the seeds of help.
The Power of One
Identifying and helping someone find the best resource for their needs is something that every person is capable of. You need not be a super hero, counselor, doctor, or on TV in order to help someone. Often it is the smallest act of kindness that might stop someone from wanting to harm themselves.
It takes just one person to show concern, just one person to not only stop and ask how someone is truly feeling. But to stay, listen and be fully present with them. Just one person can turn in an anonymous note to a school teacher or counselor expressing concern for another student. Only one person to pass along a link to a resource and then checking in to see if they followed through with it.
While self-injury and suicide are two different risk factors, and one does not guarantee the other. It is very important to note that approximately 60% or more of those who participate in self-harm will either have suicidal thoughts or will attempt to take their life.
I have dedicated my professional life developing programs, books, protocol for professionals and lay people alike. There is help and hope for decreasing the urges to harm oneself. My focus is on getting to what I refer to as the “core” issues and not solely focus on the behavior. There are those who are trained to navigate those unnerving waters so that neither you or your loved one drown in often temporary crises.
You have the power to save someone from intentionally harming themselves either as a behavior that brings a temporary release of emotional pressures; or someone who is seeking a permanent escape from this world. With the right tools that are available through books, training sessions, or videos on social media, you can make a difference that could change the course of someone’s life.
It would be an honor to help guide you, your school, your treatment facility, or government through this ever growing epidemic of NSSI and suicide.
You can find out more information by looking at the following resources:
YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram @LoriVannLPCS
Amazon—A Caregiver’s Guide to Self-injury