Monthly Archives: September 2015

Halloween Candy Alternatives

October is almost upon us which means the arrival of…the dreaded Halloween candy! The first couple pieces always taste so amazing but as the bucket or pillow case of candy goes down, the stomach ache increases! With so much awareness around keeping our kids and ourselves (sneaky candy stealing parents) healthy, here are some awesome alternatives to handing out candy this year!


Make sure to remember to talk to your kids about moderation. A few pieces of candy are a fun treat but when Halloween candy lasts until Christmas, it can put our health at risk. Both healthier foods and food alternatives can make for a new healthy Halloween. Make sure you speak positive about the alternatives so they are looked at as an exciting new prize or toy. Ideas from: and for more ideas visit the Living Well FDL Pinterest page!



Kya Schnettler, MPH, CHES

Living Well FDL Coalition Coordinator

Suicide Prevention

Helping Someone who is Suicidal

A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. Most people who commit suicide 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.

Need Help Now?

If you or someone else is:

Harming themselves or someone else

Communicating they may harm themselves or someone else

Saying or doing something that leads you to believe they are “not in touch with reality”

Under the influence of alcohol or other drugs and you are concerned about their safety

Call 911 – Your local law enforcement will come and provide assistance


If you or someone else is:

Feeling (not acting out) rage or uncontrolled anger

Having dramatic mood changes

Acting reckless/engaging in risky behaviors

Withdrawing from people or activities

Feeling trapped/hopeless

Dealing with a recent loss or failure

Having a decline in grades/work

Experiencing sleep changes

Increasing drug or alcohol use

Seeing no reason to live

Feeling extremely anxious

Call the Fond du Lac County Crisis Line – available at all times – 929-3535


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 committing suicide, but they just can’t see one.


Common misconceptions about suicide

FALSE: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.
Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like “you’ll be sorry when I’m dead,” “I can’t see any way out,” — no matter how casually or jokingly said may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

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

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

FALSE: People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.
Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.

FALSE: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.
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

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.

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.

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 commit 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


  • 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.
  • 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.

Adapted from:

Suicide prevention 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 committing 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.

Level of Suicide Risk

Low– Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she   won’t commit suicide.
Moderate– Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn’t very   lethal. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
High– Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal.   Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
Severe – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly   lethal. Says he or she will commit suicide.

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 commit suicide? (INTENTION)

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.

Suicide prevention 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 for suicide

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.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at least 90 percent of all people who commit 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
  • Terminal      illness or chronic pain
  • Recent      loss or stressful life event
  • Social      isolation and loneliness
  • History of      trauma or abuse

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

Suicide warning signs in teens

Additional warning signs that a teen may be considering suicide:

  • Change in      eating and sleeping habits
  • Withdrawal      from friends, family, and regular activities
  • Violent or      rebellious behavior, running away
  • Drug and      alcohol use
  • Unusual      neglect of personal appearance
  • Persistent      boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of      schoolwork
  • Frequent      complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as      stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • 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
  • Physical illness, disability, or pain
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Major life changes, such as retirement
  • Loss of independence
  • Loss of sense of purpose

Suicide warning signs in older adults

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

  • Reading      material about death and suicide
  • Disruption      of sleep patterns
  • Increased      alcohol or prescription drug use
  • Failure to      take care of self or follow medical orders
  • Stockpiling      medications
  • Sudden      interest in firearms
  • Social      withdrawal or elaborate good-byes
  • Rush to      complete or revise a will

Source: University of Florida


For further information about behavioral health resources and information, go to

The Positive Side of Fluoride.


In 1945 Grand Rapids, Michigan became the world’s first city to adjust the naturally occurring fluoride levels in drinking water to an optimal level for the prevention of tooth decay. After Michigan adjusted their fluoride levels, others cities followed their lead. The oral health of millions of Americans improved greatly.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that Community Water Fluoridation is one of the 10 greatest health achievements of the 20th century!

The Wisconsin Dental Association and its more than 3,000 member dentist and dental hygienists are committed to promoting quality oral health care and support community water fluoridation. In Wisconsin, the optimal level for fluoridated systems is 0.7 part per million (ppm) of fluoride.

How does fluoride prevent tooth decay?

  • When children are young, fluoride that is swallowed enters the bloodstream and combines with calcium and phosphate as the tooth is formed under the gum tissue.
  • This makes teeth are more resistant to decay throughout childhood and the teenage years.
  • Food and beverages create high acid levels in your mouth.
  • The saliva neutralizes the acid produced by bacteria on teeth and the fluoride helps heals the teeth and protect them from further decay.

Doesn’t toothpaste have fluoride? Is it still needed in the water?

Yes, many years after fluoride toothpaste became widely used experts examined this same question. They determined that the most effective source of fluoride is still water fluoridation.

Why do people still get cavities if fluoride is supposed to prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride alone cannot guarantee someone will not get tooth decay. Dietary habits, along with brushing, flossing and routine dental care are very important in reducing the occurrence of decay.

Is there fluoride in bottled water?

Bottled water is consumed for various reasons such as taste preference or convenience. However, bottled water may not have a sufficient amount of fluoride. Some bottles may have the naturally occurring fluoride while others may not.  Bottled water that is labeled as de-ionized, purified, demineralized, or distilled has been treated so that little or no amounts of fluoride are present, unless noted.