Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Importance of Child Injury Prevention

By Michelle Sliver

This week a national campaign by the Child Injury Prevention Alliance (CIPA) has been dedicated to preventing child injury. Injuries are the leading cause of death of children 0-19 and account for 9 million emergency department visits, 9,000 deaths, and more than $11.5 billion dollars annually (CDC). Somehow injury treatment is the number one cost of medical spending for children, yet many child injuries are preventable and predictable.

One might ask how we can predict and prevent random unintentional child injuries. We must focus our prevention efforts to those we know are at a greater risk for injury. Child injuries are nearly twice as likely to occur among boys than girls. Children of lower SES, certain minority populations (American Indians and Alaska Natives), and those living in the southern part of the U.S. are also at a greater risk. Some injuries are more common for different ages, such as suffocation for children under 1, drowning’s among children ages 1-4, and traffic occupancy accidents for those 5-19.

Here are a few ways to prevent the most common unintentional child injuries:

  • Burns-Install smoke detectors, cook safely and away from kids, create a fire escape plan, and monitor water heater temperatures
  • Drownings-Parents should learn to swim and CPR, fence off swimming pools, supervise constantly, and always make sure kids are wearing life jackets
  • Falls-Supervise at home, on the playground, and while kids are playing
  • Poisonings-Lock up medications and toxic substances, get rid of medications you don’t need, always read the label, and keep the poison control center phone number near phones
  • Road traffic injuries-Make sure children use the correct car seat or booster seat and that they are always buckled in in the back seat
  • Sports injuries-Use protective gear, monitor the temperature, and demonstrate appropriate and safe behavior
  • Suffocation-Parents should know basic first aid and CPR, always cut food into small pieces and supervise mealtime, and create a safe sleeping environment

Once a child injury has occurred, there’s no guarantee that they will make a full recovery, which is why prevention is essential. We must educate ourselves, parents, and children about how to make smart choices and take every step possible to prevent child injury. Each and every one of us has the power to help decrease the risk of a child getting hurt.

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A Resiliency Approach to Tackling Mental Health Stigma

By Michelle Silver

Last month (May) was nationally dedicated to mental health awareness, as the prevalence of mental illness has reached nearly 60 million Americans. Approximately 1 in 10 adolescents suffer with depression, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth ages 10-24 (CDC, 2014). However, of the nearly one million Americans that attempt suicide annually, for whatever reason, only 3.8% succeed. While all aspects of mental health are greatly stigmatized, suicide tends to be the most stigmatized and least discussed.

I recently attended a lecture about the importance of telling personal stories in a compelling way. The point was not to tell stories to get sympathy, but rather to invoke empathy that inspires change. You typically cannot gain the same value from a written document that you can from a personal story. Many of the people who now work in suicide prevention do so because of their prior experiences dealing with the issue.  However, instead of being able to share valuable personal experiences and make relevant comparisons, they are not usually encouraged to do so, because some people fear that may help progress an individual’s suicidal plans.

There is potentially great value in working with suicide survivors, since they know exactly what the experience feels like, what kind of help does and does not work, and where gaps lie in an outsiders’ understanding. Instead of silencing those individuals whose lives do not end in suicide, we must take the necessary steps to change our culture.  We must encourage survivors, once they are ready and feel comfortable, to share their personal stories. Finding somebody you connect with, who understands what you are going through, and who knows how to talk to you may be just what a struggling individual needs.

While some may be skeptical about utilizing suicide survivors, it is important to understand the benefits of working with them and utilizing their expertise.  Not only would they be beneficial for counseling services, but they would also be extremely helpful consults when making efforts to improve treatment programs.  We must get over our irrational societal “fear” of hearing what these people have to say and stop silencing them. It is critical to understand just how valuable these people may be for somebody in need.

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