Freeman Medical Musings Blog

Keep Up With Your Health

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As the leaders of healthcare in Joplin and surrounding areas, you rely on us to keep your informed and healthy. Locally Owned, Nationally Recognized means we're here for you every step of the way. 

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Feb 26, 2024

Freeman Earns Highest STEMI Designation

Coveted Award Recognizes Quicker Response and Higher Quality Care

Once again, Freeman Hearts & Vascular Institute has earned the coveted Level 1 STEMI Center designation. The hospital had to demonstrate it has the providers and resources needed to treat STEMI patients, and its physicians and staff have met and will continue to demonstrate proficiency in the latest proven STEMI standards and meet strict standards of education. 

STEMI is a common name for ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, a serious heart attack in which one of the heart’s main arteries is blocked. 

Freeman has a door-to-balloon time of less than 55 minutes, significantly lower than the 90-minute recommendation from the American Heart Association. Door-to-balloon time is a time measurement that starts when a patient with a cardiac emergency arrives at the emergency department and ends with the inflation of a balloon inside the blocked coronary artery. Time is muscle – the more time it takes to correct the problem, the more permanent damage the heart muscle can sustain.

Freeman has received and consistently maintained Level 1 honors since 2017 to the present. Each new designation is valid for three years. Therefore, Freeman will remain a STEMI Level 1 hospital through 2026. 

The STEMI Level 1 designation is a testament to our teamwork at Freeman. The collaboration that takes place with every STEMI patient to ensure that we are providing highly efficient care, without sacrificing quality. Freeman is specifically equipped to treat STEMI patients – improving both speed and quality of care – by coordinating 911 response system, ambulance services and hospitals in a comprehensive, integrated approach.

There are an estimated 550,000 new heart attacks and 200,000 repeat heart attacks (meaning the person has had one before) heart attacks in the U.S. each year, according to the American Heart Association. About 38% of people who go to the emergency room with acute coronary syndrome were diagnosed with a STEMI. That means there are a over 280,000 people who have a STEMI in the U.S. each year. To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication. Studies show patients can recover better when health care providers consistently follow treatment guidelines.

In addition to the Level 1 STEMI recognition, Freeman also received in 2023 the Platinum Performance Achievement Award for Chest Pain – MI Registry from the American College of Cardiology, as well as the Quality Achievement Awards Mission Lifeline: STEMI Gold Plus and NSTEMI Gold awards from the American Heart Association.

Michelle Wolfe is the STEMI Coordinator for Freeman Heart & Vascular Institute, which provides nationally recognized care for Joplin and surrounding areas. To find out more, give the Institute a call at 417.347.5000 or visit

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heart health

Feb 05, 2024

The Little Things You Can Do to Prevent Heart Disease

A Little Can Go A Long Way

February is Heart Disease Awareness Month, which means it’s a good time to review some simple steps to prevent heart disease and promote cardiovascular health.

Exercise: Staying active through regular exercise such as walking the dog, taking the stairs at work are two ways to improve physical activity on a daily basis. Further, playing a sport, jogging, cycling or weight training are also great ways to burn extra calories. Remember, the current recommendation is about two to three hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week.

Food: Increase daily intake of fruits, nuts, vegetables, seed oils, whole grains and oil fish (essentially a Mediterranean diet) while reducing/avoiding intake of fried/processed foods, meats, full fat dairy and sugary snacks and beverages.

Daily Checks: Periodically check your blood pressure and keep it close to 120/80. Maintain a log of your statistics. For patients with hypertension (high blood pressure), follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan and limit salt intake.

Diabetes: For patients with diabetes, follow a diabetic diet and closely monitor your glucose and hemoglobin A1c

Just say no: Avoid tobacco use in any form, as well as excessive alcohol intake and the use of recreational/stimulant drugs.

Motivation: Avoid obesity by maintaining an active lifestyle and controlling portion size.

Sleep: Get eight hours of sleep every night. Considering screening for sleep apnea if you are not getting good quality sleep or if you are overweight.

Check in: To further assess your cardiovascular risk, discuss with your primary care provider about checking your cholesterol profile, hs-CRP and CT calcium scores.

Remember, always check with your personal provider or doctor before starting any kind of health regimen.

Darwin Jeyaraj MD, FAHA, FACC, FSCAI is a board-certified interventional cardiologist at Freeman Health System.

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doctor consult

Jan 03, 2024

Why Early Detection Screenings Are So Vital

Checkups Can Help Provide Better Results

“I feel healthy, so do I really need to get screened?” This is a question we may be tempted to ask. However, even when we’re feeling our best, health screenings are vital because they bring to light conditions or diseases we may have even if we’re not currently showing symptoms.

In most cases, the earlier a problem is detected, the more effective the treatment will be. Health screenings also give us a baseline of our current health, which can be helpful for comparison in future settings. 

Early Detection Screenings are more in-depth screenings. They include:

Stroke Screening/Carotid Artery

Plaque buildup is an abnormal collection of calcium and cholesterol on the artery walls. Blocked carotid arteries can restrict blood flow to the brain or break off and become lodged in a blood vessel, resulting in a stroke. Through ultrasound technology, carotid arteries are scanned along each side of the neck to detect narrowing or blockages. Early detection will allow you to take an appropriate course of action that may reduce future risk of stroke or other health concerns. 

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening

An abdominal aortic aneurism – a ballooning of the wall in the abdominal aorta – is most often caused by plaque buildup. Noticeable symptoms of an AAA are uncommon, and you may never know you have it. Early detection can increase your survival rate by 50% or more compared to emergency treatment after a ruptured aneurysm.

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Screening

Peripheral arterial disease mainly affects the arteries located in arms, legs, and feet. When fatty deposits build up in the inner linings of the artery walls, blood flow is restricted. PAD often goes undiagnosed until painful symptoms start. Early detection could also help prevent future heart attack and stroke.

Osteoporosis Risk Assessment

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. Men and women 55 years and older are at greater risk for osteoporosis, but it can occur at any age. Poor diet and lack of exercise can contribute to an osteoporosis diagnosis. Early detection allows a physician to start appropriate treatment.

Although you might feel fine, it is a good idea to check your numbers.  This includes blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and weight.  Also having a few in-depth screenings can give you even more information about your health and receive treatment right away if needed. Screenings are a simple way to check your health.

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Holiday Traditions

Dec 18, 2023

Freeman Leadership Shares Christmas Traditions

Nearly Every Family Has a Christmas Tradition

Nearly every family has a Christmas tradition.

Think of these celebrated acts as essential aspects of how an individual family celebrates the holiday season. With most families, these traditions are often passed along from one generation to the next, with very little modification. Such traditions can range from reciting a cherished poem in front of the fireplace to cooking a unique recipe from long ago. Above all else, traditions keep a family’s heritage alive.

Recently, members of Freeman Health System’s leadership team were kind enough to share their own family traditions. They are below. We hope you enjoy them!

Paula Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Freeman Health System

“Our family has a lot of traditions. My favorite is what I call the ‘green ball.’ When my son, Austin, was 3 years old, all he wanted was a green ball. He told everyone who asked him what he wanted for Christmas this -- he also told Santa. So, every year, I put a green ball beneath the Christmas tree as a wonderful reminder of this magical time in his life.

“Now, that’s just one tradition. We have numerous fun ones, too. For example, we always watch ‘Christmas Vacation” on Thanksgiving night – that is the kick-off to the Christmas season for us. As a family, we always attend late night church service on Christmas Eve. We always share an evening of making Christmas cookies and decorating them together. We also love riding all over town and looking at Christmas lights while we drink hot chocolate; every year, my husband, son and my brother take a weekend trip to Branson to see the Christmas shows and enjoy the beautiful lights. 

“Finally, I have an ornament that was my grandmother’s when she was a little girl. It is probably 150 years old. The glass is so thin you can practically see right through it. We always hang it in a special spot on our Christmas tree every year.”

Steve Graddy, Freeman’s Chief Financial Officer
“As you know, I love to cook for my family! Back in 2006, our family was growing, with our first grandchild on the way, and I wanted to start a new Christmas tradition for us. I found a recipe for “Christmas pasta.” The recipe was by Rachael Ray. She explained how each Christmas Eve, her family would work together to prepare this amazing dish. That sounded good to me! So, on Christmas Eve in 2006 I prepared the pasta sauce and our (then) family of six really enjoyed it. Fast forward now to 2023, there are 13 of us now! This will be our 17th Christmas Eve sharing this same family tradition together. Though the meal is delicious, the joy of being together with everyone, ranging in ages from 3 to 64, is so gratifying and precious to me.

“On Halloween night, my 12-year-old granddaughter started asking me, ‘Are we making Christmas pasta this year?’ I answered with an ‘Absolutely!’ She said it was her ‘favorite meal of the year.’ It’s mine too!”

Vicky Mieseler, Chief Administrative Officer of Ozark Center

“My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. There is something about the food and family togetherness that is special to me. I am a Thanksgiving traditionalist, and my family and I use the same Thanksgiving menu that I had when I was a little girl; the same menu that my parents had when they were children. The menu never varies and we prefer it that way.

“Now, my favorite part of the meal is my grandmother’s cornbread dressing and my mother’s seven step gravy! My girls and grandsons look forward to this meal every year.  My husband was born and raised in Minnesota and the traditional Thanksgiving stuffing was not cornbread dressing.  After 41 years of marriage, he now admits he has been won over by my family’s Thanksgiving traditions.

“Another tradition we have is each year at Christmas I pull unknown children’s names from the Angel tree to match the gender and age of my grandsons. We then spend one whole Saturday Christmas shopping for these children. It’s a wonderful way to learn about giving back to those in need and it also teaches our children the true meaning of Christmas.  It can be a little stressful with four boys all shopping at one time, but I wouldn’t change it for anything!”

Jeff Thompson, Chief Clinical Officer

“Obviously, I like a lot of foods (chuckle), but if I had to pick one holiday food that I love the most it would be “dirty rice,” – although my mom called it “rice dressing.” Regardless of the name I can remember helping her make it when I was a kid. My wife and daughters all love dirty rice, so I usually make a very large batch and we eat on it for days and days.

“On Christmas Eve, I read “A Cajun Night Before Christmas.” I always read it using a Cajun accent that keeps the kids tuned in and the adults laughing. Both connect me to my childhood in Louisiana, during a time when all my family was still with me.”

Renee Denton, Chief Operating Officer of Freeman Neosho Hospital

“I have two very special holiday traditions.

“Every year a different family member lovingly places a very disproportionate angel at the top of our tree. When I was in first grade my teacher, Sylvia Edgel, fired in her own kiln and painted ceramic angels for the entire class; the beautiful little angel was hollow inside. At age 7, I insisted to my mother this angel was intended to be the angel placed at the top of the Christmas tree. My mother sweetly conceded. For the past 52 years this little angel has adorned the top of our tree. My children and grandchildren know the history of the angel and each year there’s lively discussions about whose turn it is to place here at the top of the tree. The little angel has become symbolic in our family as a very special tradition. She is very small in stature but mighty in having played a part in creating loveable and magical memories.

“A second tradition was established by my mother 42 years ago. With the chaos that comes with opening presents, mom wanted to do more to savor the moments and build anticipation. Each year, she lovingly creates and hides treasure clues that lead her grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren on hunts to find gifts from her and my dad. Her original grandchildren, now grown with children of their own, still look forward to this annual tradition. This is a very special, greatly anticipated holiday tradition that we all hold dear in our memories and hearts. It brings my mother great joy to hear the question they all ask her each year – ‘Nana, is it time for the treasure hunt?’”

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Healthy foods during the holiday

Dec 05, 2023

Navigating the Holidays with Healthy Habits

A Healthy Holiday Season is Attainable

Would you like to enjoy the holiday season without overindulging or feeling guilty? Believe it or not, there is a happy medium between overeating and total avoidance of an annual treat, and there are practices that can be helpful. 

•    Bring your favorite healthy dish to a gathering. Don’t forget to hydrate with water. Hold a bottle of water in your dominant hand while mingling. You will be less likely to nibble. 
•    Follow the 80/20 rule. Eat healthy 80 percent of the time and allow yourself some freedom 20 percent of the time. Try not to label foods as “good” or “bad” to help maintain a healthy relationship with food. Give yourself permission to enjoy the special dish your family makes only once a year and enjoy it without guilt.
•    Avoid sitting at the table after you are satisfied.  Instead, get up and participate in a game, especially one where you’re on your feet. Or take a walk outside in the fresh air. If it’s too cold, watch a YouTube video both kids and adults will enjoy. 
•    Stick to your normal sleep routine, with the understanding that you may have a few late nights or early mornings this time of year. When sleep is interrupted for an extended period, we don’t think as clearly and may even feel grumpy. Lack of sleep may increase hunger as a result of imbalance of hormones that affect your appetite. 
•    Give yourself permission to disengage from the holiday hustle to reflect on what the holidays mean to you. Practice self-care by spending time away from social media or parties you prefer not to attend.

Remember the reason for the season and enjoy time spent with family and friends. Focus on the fun rather than the food or feeling need to overspend on gifts. Make holiday memories that outlive opening presents. 

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MONARCH Procedure

Nov 14, 2023

MONARCH®: Providing Answers and Peace Of Mind for Lung Health

Decreased wait time/better results are part of premier program

The waiting period for medical test results can be one marked by apprehension, even when the anticipated turnaround time is as brief as 48 hours. Wait times of weeks or even months can be agonizing.

Enter Freeman Health System pulmonologists, who can now make a precise diagnosis through a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that helps eliminate unnecessary wait times and guesswork.

Recently, Freeman Lung Institute marked its the 400th procedure using MONARCH®, a newer technology that gives Freeman pulmonologists a better way to see inside a patient’s lungs – making it a faster, more precise tool for diagnosing and treating lung cancer. Freeman is the first and only hospital in Missouri, Southeast Kansas and Northeast Oklahoma to invest in the MONARCH Platform by Auris Health, Inc.

“We are trying to find these masses when patients don’t have symptoms yet,” said Dr. Grant Pierson, board-certified pulmonologist at Freeman Lung Institute who utilizes MONARCH. “Once symptoms appear, it’s a more advanced stage of a cancer that has either grown to a large size or spread throughout the body. So we want to find it before symptoms appear – when it’s a very small nodule. We want to biopsy it, and if the lungs can tolerate it, either have it surgically removed or even radiated so the patient can be cancer-free.”

MONARCH’s cutting-edge technology combines the latest advancements in robotic control, minimally invasive instrumentation and data science into one platform, essentially reinventing the bronchoscope, a tool used to diagnose small masses in the lungs. The masses diagnosed might be something as benign as a tiny dirt particle – or as harmful as a cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, and early diagnosis is key to successful treatment. The problem is symptoms don’t often appear in the early stages of the disease, making that early diagnosis hard to achieve. Lung cancer can be caused by smoking, chemical exposure or radon, the latter a colorless, odorless gas common in the Four States. Radon exposure, in fact, is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.

The MONARCH robotic-assisted bronchoscope is a game-changer for patients seeking a diagnosis of a nodule in their lungs. Its novel telescoping design enables physicians to reach farther into the lungs and visualize what is being biopsied, all with impressive precision. Each component of the bronchoscope can be independently articulated, advanced, retracted and positionally locked, giving physicians greater control and maneuverability deep in the lung, where most small nodules are found. 

In other cases, masses in the lungs may be discovered when patients have an unrelated bout of chest pain, coughing or shortness of breath.

Dr. Pierson predicts that with the MONARCH Platform, biopsies will be more common for cases like these, so physicians can provide patients with solutions and well-being.

“In the future, the goal is to be able to biopsy, diagnose and treat the tumor, all within the same procedure,” said Dr. Pierson. “We could tell the patient ‘this was a cancer, but we were able to treat it, and now you’re cancer-free.’”

For more information about MONARCH or pulmonology services at Freeman, please call 417.347.8315 or visit

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Nov 01, 2023

Handling Holiday Stress

Steps you can take to make your holiday more enjoyable

The holiday season is upon us. We expect it to be a time of joy, excitement, hope and spending time with the people we love. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of stress for many. The holidays can exacerbate financial, family and personal issues. This can take a toll on a person’s well-being mentally and physically.

In light of these concerns, it’s important to pay attention to how the holidays might be affecting you. Unfortunately, when the stress increases many are tempted to turn to unhealthy coping strategies such as:

•    Excessive drinking or substance use 
•    Overeating or eating too little 
•    Self-harm 
•    Anger or violence 
•    Sleeping too much or too little

Some of these unhealthy responses may have long-lasting and negative consequences. Therefore, it’s important to learn and put into practice healthy coping strategies. The following suggestions will help you cope with holiday stress more effectively. Remember – each person is unique, and taking the time to try many different things and figure out what combination of skills works for you is worth doing.

Manage Your Expectations 
Try to set realistic goals, and keep expectations for the holiday season manageable by not trying to make this “the best holiday ever.” Pace yourself. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. With holiday commitments, it is okay to say “no” to a few, or all of them. It will help relieve some stress.

Make a Budget 
Financial strain is one of the leading causes of stress. Making a budget at the start of the season and sticking to it is one of the most effective ways to mitigate this stress. It helps prevent accidental overspending and ensures reasonable expectations. Try to remember that quality time and happy memories are generally worth more than expensive gifts.

Plan Ahead 
Between co-workers, friends and family, it's inevitable that some commitments will end up on the same day. Plan ahead, and prioritize only the holiday events that mean the most to you. Don’t try to attend everything else. Be realistic with how much you can handle this season.

Practice Self-Care
Schedule time for activities that make you feel good. Take a nap, read a book, go to the movies, listen to music you love or take your dog for a walk. It’s okay to prioritize alone time when you need to recharge.

Seek Support 
Lighten the load with a strong support system. Support can come from a lot of places. Many people turn to their friends and families, while others find it in a community or religious organization.  

Enlist the Help of Professionals 
Seeking professional help is an excellent choice when you feel overwhelmed and the stress is beginning to turn into a serious mental health issue. Ozark Center and Freeman Health System offer many resources for specific needs.

•    Crisis Hotline: 417.347.7720 
•    New Directions (for help with alcohol/drug issues): 417-347-7730 
•    Hope Spring for (adult counseling needs): 417-347-7567 
•    Will’s Place (for children and adolescent counseling needs): 417-347-7580 
•    Urgent Behavior Solutions (for urgent mental health care): 417-347-7800

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halloween safety

Oct 23, 2023

Be Scary Safe on Halloween

Keep the kiddos safe this Halloween

A person is more likely to be struck by a car on Halloween than any other night of the year. It makes sense – it’s dark outside and kids are excited to trick or treat; they’ve waited all year for this night to arrive and to dress up as their favorite characters!

There are safety measures we can take, however, to keep our kids safe on the spookiest night of the year. When trick-or-treating, an adult should always accompany kids when moving from house to house. Stay in neighborhoods that you know. Cross the street at appropriate crossings, and make sure children are crossing with an adult. If available, it is statistically safer to attend community activities for Halloween such as popular trunk-or-treats events, which are often held in public parks or parking lots.

When moving from house to house, children should wear clothing that reflects light, and shoes and all accessories should fit well. Older children should travel with a buddy or in a group. Children should never enter a home without a parent accompanying them. Families and children should carry flashlights and glow sticks to make them more visible to drivers. Parents should also make sure they themselves wear light reflective clothing.

Many of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s have memories of the plastic masks held on by a small elastic band. No one could see, and they fogged up quickly. Thankfully, we have come a long way with costumes! When it comes to masks, make sure your child can easily see what’s in front of them. If using make-up instead of a mask, make sure it’s non-toxic; some kids with sensitive skin or eczema may have reactions. Additional ideas that won’t limit your child’s vision but bring creativity to a costume are wigs and hats. 

Remember, there’s safety in numbers when it comes to groups. If you can do your spooky activities when the sun is still up that’s the best time to head outdoors. Parents and guardians should stay with younger children at all times; even older teenagers should stay within a group.

When it comes to the coveted candy haul, have your kids wait until they are home to begin sorting out their candy. Have them wash their hands well – remember, your kids have been reaching into those candy bowls all night. You also want to think about the age of the child and potential choking hazards. Tampering with candy is rare but it can still happen. To be on the safe side, throw away any candy that looks like it has been unwrapped or altered in any way. Also, don’t let your kids go overboard on the spoils. Everyone enjoys a sweet treat but too much of a good thing can bring about a stomachache or even a toothache. Think about rationing out the treats so the kids can enjoy the treats over time.

Finally, if your child has any food allergies, remove those candies immediately. There is the Teal Pumpkin Project which is about making Halloween more inclusive for kids suffering from food allergies. A teal pumpkin or sticker in front of a home indicates non-food treats are being handed out that are safe for all trick-or-treaters. If you’re getting candy from homes that do not have a teal pumpkin, please go through the candy before your child enjoys the treats. Make sure there is nothing in there that will make them react.

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SEK Expansion

Oct 13, 2023

Expanding a wide range of Freeman services across Southeast Kansas

Continuing Our Commitment To Southeast Kansas

Freeman Health System has a proven record of providing services throughout Southwest Missouri. But our investment in Southeast Kansas, specifically Pittsburg, is particularly significant given geographic considerations and the large number of residents who trust Freeman for their healthcare needs.

Our commitment to Southeast Kansas is extremely evident. We already offer a diverse range of services, including medical oncology, free-standing MRI services, primary care, sports medicine and a multi-specialty clinic that rotates over a dozen specialists. Additionally, we are proud to be the exclusive sports medicine provider for Pittsburg State University. All of these developments have led us to the decision to build a full-service hospital in Pittsburg, Kansas, featuring 50 beds and spanning 170,000 square feet, ultimately creating 500 to 1,000 new jobs in the area. 

I proudly called it a “monumental day” when we announced plans in late August to construct our state-of-the-art, full-service hospital. As many people know, Pittsburg is my hometown and I am honored to be able to bring the services of Freeman Health System to this amazing community and region. It is particularly noteworthy since building new hospitals is rare. Sadly, many rural hospitals have even closed. We believe that Pittsburg and surrounding communities deserve this level of care and we are proud to make this investment in the healthcare needs of Southeast Kansas.

Freeman’s growing presence in Southeast Kansas is very important. We have steadily built services in Pittsburg and surrounding communities for over a decade. Many Southeast Kansas patients have chosen Freeman as their provider of choice, and we think it is very important to provide quality healthcare services closer to home for them. I hear many, many positive comments from individuals living in Southeast Kansas about the healthcare opportunities Freeman has brought to their local communities. In fact, I have been encouraged for several years to expand our services in the form of a new hospital. We are happy to answer this call.  

Freeman Health System stands strong in our position to provide contemporary, innovative care to the residents of our region. We believe that every individual deserves the highest quality services possible delivered with compassion and skill. That is a mission we will faithfully fulfill in Southeast Kansas. 

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Counseling - hands

Sep 21, 2023

Preventing the Most Preventable Cause Of Death

September is Suicide Awareness Month

Life can have its dark moments. For some, these moments can lead to a crisis, at which time an individual reaches her or his breaking point and suicide may seem like the only escape from the emotional pain.

Each year, we lose approximately 48,000 Americans to suicide, or approximately 134 lives a day. Here in Missouri, those numbers are indisputably headed in the wrong direction: We lost 1,177 individuals to suicide in 2021 and more than 1,200 in 2022. 

That said, suicide is among our most serious public health crises and a leading cause of death in America. The collateral damage is sweeping, with social, emotional and economic consequences. 

However, it’s also the most preventable type of death.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and anyone can take action to help prevent suicide. Regardless of how significant our actions may seem, we can provide hope to those who are in crisis and might be contemplating suicide – provided we’re willing to listen and talk openly about those dark moments.

Conversations about emotional well-being can be difficult. However, for a person in despair, simply articulating that fear or sadness to a supportive listener can help him or her share that burden, feel relief and regrasp hope. So if you notice someone struggling, tell them they’re noticed, because your acknowledgment could save a life. 

On an individual level, there are simple ways we can identify and manage common life stressors in ourselves. The Centers for Disease Control recommends these practices for handling discontent and despair:

-    “Breaks” from watching or reading the news
-    Healthy eating
-    Getting plenty of quality sleep
-    Regular exercise
-    Taking time to unwind
-    Talking to others
-    Connecting with community- or faith-based organizations
-    Avoiding drugs and alcohol

If your situation isn’t improving, or you’re trying to help someone else through a rough patch, local resources are ready. 

The 988 crisis line Ozark Center – one of 200 nationwide 988 call centers, takes calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Regardless if the situation seems life-threatening, any individual in crisis or a concerned other can dial 988 to reach a trained crisis specialist for support. This support includes brief supportive counseling, referrals and education, and there is no charge for seeking help from a 988 professional or at the local crisis center.

People do care, and we can help. 

Debbie Fitzgerald is Director of Crisis Services for Ozark Center, which has been active in suicide prevention for more than 20 years. For more information, call 417.347.7720 or visit

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