September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month and Community Hospital-Fairfax Senior Life Solutions program is working to raise awareness. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an average of 129 deaths by suicide occur per day and there are an estimated 1,400,000 suicide attempts per year. Talk of suicide should never be dismissed. If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Community Hospital- Fairfax Senior Life Solutions is an intensive outpatient group therapy program designed to meet the unique needs of older adults suffering from symptoms of anxiety and depression often related to aging. The Senior Life Solutions program staff is trained in the use of standardized, evidence-based tools for screening patients at risk of suicide. In addition, the staff assists the patient to create a plan to prevent future suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts.

Following an individual assessment, patients meet up to three times per week in a supportive, encouraging group setting. The program staff includes a board-certified psychiatrist, licensed social workers, a registered nurse, and other healthcare professionals dedicated to the emotional well-being of the seniors in our community.

Sarah Watkins, MS, LPC, explains, “At Senior Life Solutions, we’re committed to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health, bringing awareness to our community about the risks of suicide, and providing improved quality of life for senior adults. Our program offers a supportive atmosphere where individuals connect with others who may be facing similar challenges and develop tools needed to cope with depression and anxiety that can accompany aging, change and loss. Seeing our participants thrive in the program and return to leading more fulfilling lives is a joy.

Patients may benefit from the Senior Life Solutions program if they recently experienced a traumatic event, are grieving the loss of a loved one, have experienced changes in sleep, appetite, or mood, or have lost interest in previously enjoyed activities.

Referrals to the program can be made by anyone, including a patient’s physician, family member, self-referral, or another healthcare professional.

For more information, call the Community Hospital-Fairfax Senior Life Solutions program at 660-686 2319.