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Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – Dominic’s Story

Suicide prevention awareness month

Psychiatric treatment team at KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital helps teen learn healthy skills in order to accept his past and live for the future

In September of 2012, 15-year-old Dominic was struggling with severe depression, suicidal thoughts and gestures, and psychotic symptoms. He was seeing a (non-KVC) therapist for his feelings of paranoia (he was hearing voices and seeing images), depression, and his addiction to an inappropriate website on his computer. A couple of weeks later, Dominic ended up in the hospital after he tried to cut his arm in several places with a knife. Worried that his actions were a cry for help, his family decided to pursue psychiatric treatment for their son.

It was around one in the morning when Dominic and his family arrived at KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital, located three hours away from home. Three staff members greeted the family and the admissions team sat with Dominic’s family to explain what was going to happen over the next few months. After Dominic gave his mom, grandma and grandpa a hug and said goodbye, the family left feeling that they had left Dominic in very good hands and knew he was where he needed to be.

In the following days, Dominic began attending therapy and felt comfortable enough to tell his therapist that he knew he was getting worse prior to coming to Prairie Ridge. He had strong desires to hurt himself and others, and had even planned on taking a gun or knife to school. Dominic developed a great relationship with his therapist and the doctors, which allowed him to be honest about hidden issues he had experienced. The staff was able to develop an effective treatment plan and Dominic’s behavior and confidence started to improve from week to week.

While at Prairie Ridge, Dominic’s family received updates from his doctor, nurses, psychiatrist and therapist. Dominic was able to talk to his family every night, but he suprisingly never asked when he would come home. Just through talking to Dominic over the phone, his family knew he was happier than he had been in a long time. They visited every weekend over the next two months, and although the visits were limited to an hour, the family saw incredible changes in Dominic. In addition to therapy, Prairie Ridge provided schooling for Dominic, even gym! He had excellent grades versus failing grades when he was at home.

When Dominic moved from the hospital floor to KVC’s Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (PRTF), the move to the housing unit was quite a change. Dominic grew up as an only child and did not have any siblings to interact with. Now he was living with 7-8 other boys. Due to the incredible progress he had made, Dominic adjusted very well to cohabiting with other boys. He learned many important social skills including how to share responsibilities and respecting others’ space. Living in the housing unit also allowed Dominic to see how lucky he was to have a family.

The difference in Dominic was amazing. He began to have confidence and get his self-esteem back. His family truly believes that without KVC, Dominic would have harmed himself, others or both. Today, Dominic is looking forward to graduating high school. He meets with his case manager and therapist weekly. He confides in his therapist if something is bothering him and takes his medications with no problems. His family does not deny there are still some challenges, but with the help from KVC, Dominic was able to learn coping skills and how to believe in himself, accept the past and live for the future.

We can all make a difference in someone’s life by knowing what to look for and how to help. If you know a child or young adult struggling with depression or experiencing thoughts of self-harm, contact our psychiatric hospitals at 1-866-KVC-CARES (582-2273), or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (913) 890-7468. 


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