Talking about Suicide

I woke up this morning to read the tragic news that celebrated television personality, chef, and author Anthony Bourdain died of an apparent suicide. This just mere days after iconic fashion designer Kate Spade also completed suicide. It’s times like this that we hear a lot of people talk about suicide. Some of the discussion is helpful. Some of it isn’t.

What is important to understand about suicide is that open and honest discussion is vital, and may even save a life. Stigmatizing it by calling it a “selfish” decision or avoiding the subject entirely, for fear that discussion may “plant the idea” in someone’s head are two still very prevalent and very wrong modes of thinking.

The QPR Institute (Question, Persuade, Refer) encourages people to do the following if they believe a loved one is considering suicide.

QUESTION – Ask the person directly, but gently, if they have suicidal thoughts or are considering suicide. If they answer yes, then ask if they have a plan or means to do so. It is well-established that if asked directly, people with suicidal thoughts will answer honestly. It is very important to ask this very directly (not “Is everything okay” or “Is there something you want to tell me”) and very kindly (not “You’re not gonna kill yourself are you!?”) in order to take the next step.

PERSUADE – Now it is imperative to try and persuade this person to seek help. The key is to listen intently and offer hope. Be empathetic. Be understanding. Using forceful language or trying to guilt the person will not be productive.

REFER – Let the person know there are resources available to help them. Some of those resources will be listed at the bottom of this post.

Anything that halts this discussion or prompts someone who bay be considering suicide to stay quiet is harmful. Note that I wrote at the beginning of this post “completed” rather than “committed.” This is part of the ongoing effort to de-stigmatize suicide and encourage open and honest discussion. The discussion that starts with a very difficult question may end up saving a life.


1-800-273-8255 – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

402-475-6695 – (for Nebraskans) Centerpointe Crisis Response Line

You can also call 911 at any time or seek out your local hospital

There is also a Mental Health Association of Nebraska “Warm Line” for non-emergencies. They can be reached at 402-975-2032

To learn more about QPR please go to www.qprinstitute.com. The Institute provides educational materials and trainings in the QPR process. Contact them to find out more.


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Sleep Awareness Week 2018

By Alex Zurek, Staff Therapist

March 2nd through the 9th is Sleep Awareness Week 2018. Initiated by the National Sleep Foundation, the theme of this year’s Sleep Awareness Week is “Begin with Sleep,” reminding us all of the importance of a restful night sleep. For more information about Sleep Awareness Week 2018: https://sleepfoundation.org/SAW.

While a proper sleep regimen is certainly a great place to begin your journey toward physical and mental health, we at Nebraska Mental Health Centers also believe that this is a good time to state the importance of self-care in general. One resource that may be helpful in beginning to think about the role of self-care in your life is Blurt. Blurt is an organization aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of depression, though their focus on self-care can benefit anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or encountering challenges in life. For more information about Blurt and how you can implement self-care in your life: https://www.blurtitout.org/resource/self-care-info/.

Of course, if you need more than a strong self-care regimen to overcome your challenges, please contact Nebraska Mental Health Centers for an evaluation. And if you are concerned that you may harm yourself, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.


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Addressing the Stigma of Mental Health and Seeking Treatment

By Melissa Lafferty, M.S., PLMHP

As we begin October, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, I am constantly reminded in our society that mental health needs and “having sad feelings” makes people uncomfortable and scared.

But as a mental health provider, I am left asking why?

  • Why does having a mental health diagnosis scare and frighten others?
  • Why do those who struggle and survive every day feel left alone and abandoned when they share their mental health challenges with others?
  • Why do we lie to ourselves and others about being “fine” just to save face in the public?

Through our work and research at Nebraska Mental Health Centers, we strive to answer these whys and to give hope, relief, and empower adults, families, and children with mental health diagnoses.  Mental health disorders are so complicated.  They are impacted by our biological, cultural, and societal standards that are constantly telling us all “how” we should live our lives to be happy, productive people.  But life is not a one-size-fits-all dish that serves us all.  We all have different meanings for what it means to be happy and healthy.

But for those individuals who strive every day to understand their feelings of unhappiness or unrest, to understand their repetitive behaviors, to understand their constant worries, or to understand why their child can’t learn like other children can learn, we as a society need to support their goals to find answers, not shame and accuse them of being “crazy” because they are searching for the answers to find happiness for themselves and their families.  Every day should be a message to individuals with mental health needs that we are here to love, support, and encourage them to have a voice to help them find happiness and health in their lives.

Be a voice, be a supporter, be a hopeful message for everyone that surrounds you to find the happiness in their lives!

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Understanding Depression

Facts about Depression

Facts about Depression

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NMHC teaming up with SCIP, Saltdogs to Stand Up Against Bullying

NMHC teaming up with SCIP, Saltdogs to Stand Up Against Bullying

We’re proud to announce a partnership with SCIP (School Community Intervention and Prevention) and the Lincoln Saltdogs in an effort to stop and prevent bullying. Please visit our Facebook page in the link above to find out more.

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Getting There Slower

By Joanna deSupinski, M.A.

Take a deep breath. Wait, first sit down. No, really sit down and not just on the edge of your seat. Sit as if you are anchoring yourself and not the strongest wind could blow you over. Let your legs stretch out in front of you. Now let your shoulder blades spread out as you sink into the back of the seat. Your spine should straighten like an unraveling vine. Your arms should dangle at your side like arms on a puppet. Now take a deep breath from the pit of your stomach filling your lungs such that your ribcage expands fully. As you exhale notice the rhythm of your breath like ocean waves steadily tumbling in and out. Take a moment to notice any changes in your body. Did you notice any tension that has now subsided? If your breathing rate has not noticeably slowed, re-read this paragraph and follow the steps until it has and then read on.

You may now proceed in reading this blog.

In the words of John Kabat Zinn, founder of a leading stress reduction clinic and Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program (SR & RP) at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, “the stress in our lives is now so great and so insidious that more and more people are making the deliberate decision to understand it better and to bring it under personal control (p.2).” Recent research is following this cognitive thread and revealing that we would be a more productive society if we just tried to get to our destination point a little slower. Mednick and Ehrman (2006) encourage naps as the most efficient remedy to both mental and physical health issues. Additionally, they provide evidence of greater productivity when nap time is factored into the daily routine. In a recent article from CNN, the history of Sunday was explored revealing that a ‘stop day’ is no longer adhered to by contemporary society. Sunday used to be a day of rest when stores shut down and families retreated to their homes, enjoying relaxation and each other’s company. Most frightening however, are the effects of prolonged stress that inevitably ensues just in thinking about work each day of the week. As a mental health service provider, I am well acquainted with the resulting depression that is never a far cry from constant stress.

Research shows that work-oriented cultures, such as the US and Japan have higher levels of depression and stress-related medical conditions among employees than other countries (Mednick & Ehrman, 2006). In fact, there is a condition in Japan known as “karōshi,” literally meaning dying from overwork (Happy: The movie. 2011). Also common among these cultures is a sense of guilt when not working.

Don’t worry employers, this does not mean I condone playing hooky. I do encourage commitment to health and well-being and that includes taking an intentional and focused break. It seems then, that in order for R & R to be effective it must become a part of everyday society.

Take a second to ask yourself, should greater productivity really be the goal of self-care and mindfulness?


Happy: The movie. The Movement. (2011). Michael Pritchard.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe of living: Using the wisdom of your body and

            mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Bantam Dell Publishers.

Mednick, S., & Ehrman, M. (2006). Take a nap! Change your life. New York, NY:

Workman Publishing Company, Inc.

Tinker, B.  (2013, January 11). The Importance of a ‘stop day.’ CNN. Retrieved from


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Is Punishment Always the Answer?

Exploring Alternative Methods for Addressing Problematic Behaviors from Children

By Tessa Mak, M.A.

Trying to find an effective method for disciplining your child when he/she is misbehaving can be a challenge, especially when you feel like punishment is the only option (i.e. spanking and taking everything away).  Although punishment can be effective, it may not work in every situation or for every child.  For example, some children can have all of their toys taken away and still continue to demonstrate the same problematic behaviors.  In addition, spanking may result in immediate compliance with requests, but excessive disciplinary spanking can also increase aggressive behavior in children.  Therefore, it is important to have a wide variety of strategies to address your child’s problematic behaviors.

When addressing your child’s problematic behaviors, it can be helpful to first understand why your child is misbehaving and what he/she is gaining from these problematic behaviors.  For some children, their misbehavior is to gain attention from adults or peers (it is important to remember that even negative attention is still attention). 

For example, a child may start screaming because he/she wants attention from a preferred adult who is busy doing another activity or a child may burp loudly in public to make siblings or classmates laugh.  Other children may misbehave because they are trying to escape or avoid an uncomfortable situation.  An example of this would be when told to begin working on homework that the child does not understand how to complete, he/she may start to scream or cry in an attempt to not have to start the difficult task.  Still other children misbehave because their actions either feel good to them (i.e. making noises with their mouth because it feels good) or relieve internal discomfort (chewing on shirt collar because it is soothing).

Once you understand why your child is misbehaving you can start to use more effective methods for addressing his/her problematic behaviors.  When you start to utilize some of these strategies, it is important to be consistent and follow through with what you have started.  One strategy is to address the triggers that cause your child’s problem behaviors.  This may involve teaching your child appropriate ways to ask for attention as well as identifying and discussing with your child age-appropriate specific behaviors for them to do at home, school, with peers, and in public.  Another strategy is to give the child appropriate choices for their behaviors (i.e. your child can walk holding your hand or sit in the cart when at a grocery store). 

Another strategy is to utilize effective consequences for both your child’s positive and negative behaviors.  When your child behaves in a positive way, give specific praise about what you liked so your child knows he/she behaved appropriately and he/she will be more likely to do the behavior again to receive praise from you.  When your child behaves inappropriately, use logical consequences, which may involve taking away privileges or requiring the child to do extra chores.  When giving a logical consequence for a negative behavior make sure the punishment fits the crime because children who feel like the punishment will never end are less likely to feel motivated to make changes to their behaviors. 

Even when using some of these alternative strategies, addressing your child’s problematic behaviors may still be a challenge.  Therefore, it is important to use your own social support (i.e. talking with friends and family) to help decrease your emotional distress as well as help you stay consistent with your approach.  It may also be beneficial to gain some professional assistant from a mental health provider to develop, establish, and maintain effective discipline strategies specific for your child.  

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How Do I Know If I Need Therapy?

By Brindi Streufert, M.A.

Have you been feeling down lately? Maybe your nerves are starting to get the best of you or you can’t get those worrisome thoughts out of your head. Are you struggling to get along with someone important in your life? Maybe you’re not sleeping as well as you used to.

Sure, everyone goes through obstacles and bumps on the road of life. Often we can make it through those obstacles with some hard work, good stress management, support from family and friends, or some vacation time.

But what if your usual tricks to beat the blues or calm your nerves just aren’t working like they used to? How can you tell if it might be time to get some professional support for what you’re going through? Could you really benefit from therapy?

To know if it might be time to seek some professional help, you might benefit from asking yourself these questions:

• Have I ever experienced this level of difficulty?
• Is my mood or worry affecting how I live my life?
• Are my job, school, or relationships suffering because of my current experiences?
• Have I ever had this much difficulty getting back to living the way I want to live?
• Have I been able to get better on my own?
• Do I know how to get better on my own?

Your answers to these questions may indicate that you would benefit from therapy. If you find yourself experiencing more distress than you have had to cope with in the past, and the distress is significantly affecting your job, school or relationships, you might benefit from therapy. If you are unsure of how to help yourself get better or your efforts are not helping you feel better, you might benefit from therapy.

If you think you might benefit from therapy, we, at Nebraska Mental Health Centers, would be happy to assist you. You can call us at 402-483-6990. If you don’t live nearby, the American Psychological Association (APA) can help you find the provider in your city who might be right for you at this link: http://locator.apa.org/index.cfm?event=search.text.

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Free presentations on mental health

FREE Mental Health Presentations will be given at NMHC  for parents, caregivers, and anyone who works with children starting next week as part of Children’s Mental Health Week. Here is a list of the upcoming topics.

A Parent’s Guide to Bullying: Mon May 7 at 6:00pm

When to Worry About Worrying: Tues May 8 at 7:00pm

ADHD or Inattention: Wed May 9 at 7:00pm

Coping with Trauma: Thurs May 10 at 7:00pm

Managing Problem Behaviors: Fri May 11 at 5:00pm

We hope you can join us for what we feel will be an informative series on mental health and its importance in our everyday lives.

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NMHC to hold special event on Parent-Child Interaction Training


Dr. Kimberly Zlomke

March 14th, 2012 11:00am at NMHC

Current Practices and New Research in Parent-Child Interaction Training (P-CIT)

in Evidence-Based Treatment for Childhood Behavior Disorders


  • Basic procedures and populations of P-CIT

  • Primary effectiveness of P-CIT with differing special populations (autism spectrum)

  • Key components of P-CIT that support changes in family functioning


NMHC is located at

4545 S. 86th St.

Lincoln, NE 68502 

(on the southeast corner of 84th and Pioneers)

Please call Thomas McPherson at 402-483-6990 or email tmcpherson@nmhc-clinics.com if you wish to attend or have any questions.    

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