Be a Goose

I have always lived under the Atlantic flyway. Every Fall and Spring of my childhood, my father would call me outside to listen. The geese were migrating, flying high. In the Fall their call was the most mournful and forlorn thing I had ever heard. Funny how that same call in the Spring was so joyous and hopeful. The geese are going North! Winter is nearly done.

In real-time it is March. Walking the dog tonight I stopped to listen to two flocks. They were flying high. Headed north. Spring is on its way. Life and hope are coming to the North.

You can learn a lot from birds. Do you know why geese migrate in V formation? It turns out the V is aerodynamically efficient and conserves the energy of the individual birds. Another fact is geese take turns flying point. Cutting the path is tiring. When the lead bird is weary, he drops back and another goose takes the job. Teamwork at its finest.

End of ornithology lesson.

Started reading an article on suicide for continuing education credits. (Geese and suicide all in one page? Hold on. I will tie them in.) I am only about a third of the way through the article but have already picked up a few interesting points. For example, the highest risk group for suicide is between 45 and 65. The next most vulnerable age group is the over 85 group. That sounds like the ages of many of us.

Chronic illness is a factor in suicidality. While pain is closely aligned with thoughts of suicide, suicidal ideation also increases if people believe they are a burden or if there is a traumatic event. Like vision loss, for example.

The rate of accomplished suicides is higher in the elderly. One more thing age and experience has taught us to be better at. Yikes.

Other factors listed by Van Orden et al are things like living alone, mental illness and grief. Also listed were frailty and a generation bias against seeking treatment for mental health.

Another thing I learned was not surprising but definitely worth mentioning. Social support and connectiveness decreases the risks of suicide. Having a social network of supportive people is protective.

Which circles me right back around to geese! Geese migrate successfully because they do it as a flock. They help one another out by trading off who is on point when they fly. Another thing I did not mention, about a flock on the ground. Have you watched them? Did you notice there is always at least one head up, looking around and on guard? (Alright, so I  lied. The ornithology lesson was not quite over.)

Page points are: 1) in Spring, geese are a sign of renewal and hope. Also they are an excellent example of animals working together for the good of all.

2) Older people with chronic conditions are at greater risk for suicide. Social connections are an excellent protective factor.

3) Be a goose. Have hope. Get social support.

Told ya I could tie them together!😎

Next: coming soon!

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