MOUNT VERNON — The common belief is that suicide rates increase in December because people become depressed at the sight of others enjoying the holidays while they cope with money problems or personal woes.
The common belief is wrong.
National studies, including one done by the Veterans Affairs Research Center in Durham, N.C., have shown that December has the lowest suicide rate of the year. The peak is in the spring.
On the local level, it’s hard to spot any trends.
In Knox County, five suicides were reported in 2011, according to information from Coroner Dr. Jennifer Ogle. Two were in January, the others in February, April and August.
Five have occurred so far in 2012, one each in February, March, April, August and November.
Suicides can happen any time of year and prevention is a year-round effort for the Knox County Suicide Prevention Coalition.
In the front lines in the fight against suicide is Pathways of Central Ohio, which serves Licking and Knox County with its Crisis Hotline and Information Center, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
To reach that hotline, simply call 2-1-1 or (800) 544-1601. Calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-275-8255 will also be routed to Pathways if made from Licking or Knox counties.
Walter Zang, 211/Crisis hotline director, said they can put the caller in touch with the programs they need. For example, an Afghan War veteran who may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be put in touch with the Veterans Administration programs he or she needs.
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Common Warning Signs of Suicide
- •Giving away favorite possessions.
- •A marked or noticeable change in an individual’s behavior.
- •Previous suicide attempts; revealing a desire to die.
- •Depression (crying, insomnia, inability to think or function, excessive sleep or appetite loss).
- •Inappropriate “good-byes.”
- •Verbal behavior that is ambiguous or indirect, i.e. “I’m going on a real long trip ... You won’t have to worry about me anymore ... I want to go to sleep and never wake up.”
- •Purchase of a gun or pills.
- •Alcohol or drug abuse.
- •Sudden happiness after long depression.
- •Obsession about death and talk about suicide.
- •Decline in performance of work, school and other activities.
- •Deteriorating physical appearance or reckless actions.
What to Do
•Take suicide threats seriously; be direct, open and honest in communications.
- •Listen, allow the individual to express their feelings; express your concerns in a non-judgmental way.
- •Say things like “I’m here for you. Let’s talk. I’m here to help.”
- •Ask, “Are you having suicidal thoughts?” A detailed plan indicates greater risk.
- •Take action sooner, rather than later.
- •Get the individual who is at risk connected with professional help.
- •Dispose of pills, drugs and guns safely and legally.
- •Don’t worry about being disloyal to the individual; contact a reliable family member or close friend of the person.
What Not to Do
•Do not leave the person alone if you feel the risk to their safety is immediate.
- •Do not treat the threat lightly — even if the person begins to joke about it.
- •Do not act shocked or condemn. There may not be another cry for help.
- •Do not point out how much better off they are than others. This increases their feeling of guilt and worthlessness.
- •Do not swear yourself to secrecy.
- •Do not offer simple solutions.
- •Do not suggest drugs or alcohol as a solution.
- •Do not judge the person.
- •Avoid arguments.
- •Do not try to counsel the person yourself.
- •Don’t be afraid to get professional help.
Contact Chuck MartinEmail
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