Talking, listening help prevent suicide

Shelley Blundell

Shelley Blundell

Daily Kent Stater

To some people, talking about their problems with concerned listeners is often a good way to deal with their pain.

But others, some 30,000 a year in the United States, feel suicide is their only option.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24, according to a Townhall II information pamphlet.

“Chances are suicidal people aren’t going to say to you, ‘I’m thinking about suicide,’” said Deborah Newhart, director of emergency services for Townhall II.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, “People consider suicide when they are hopeless and unable to see alternative solutions to problems.”

Jason McGlothlin, assistant professor for Counseling and Human Development Services, said the biggest thing people need to do concerning suicide is talk to other people.

“If you know someone who seems to be in trouble, ask them the suicide question: ‘Are you thinking about killing yourself?’” McGlothlin said. “Often, people don’t ask because they think it will put the idea into somebody’s head if they suggest it — this is not true.”

Newhart agreed.

“You absolutely need to talk about it if there’s a concern at all,” Newhart said. “Most suicidal people do not want to die. They just want the emotional pain to end and don’t see any other option.”

Newhart said it was important to address the issue with those who may appear to be overly depressed or suicidal and let them know they are supported and can get help if they choose.

The National Institute of Mental Health reported that while the perception is that suicide rates are highest among the nation’s youth, it is the elderly — particularly older white males — who have the highest rates of suicide. The rate of suicide among white men aged 85 and older is six times higher than the overall national rate.

While studies have reported a decrease in suicide across all gender and racial groups, the institute said health policy experts are concerned about the increase in suicide by firearms for all young men.

Firearms are the most commonly used method of suicide for both men and women. Almost 60 percent of all suicides are firearm related.

Both Newhart and McGlothlin said the best resource for people contemplating suicide is a suicide prevention hotline.

“Townhall II does have a 24-hour hotline, and all our respondents are fully trained to help people who feel they may commit suicide,” Newhart said.

While some suicides do seem to be sudden and without warning, Newhart did say there are some signs someone may be contemplating suicide.

“Sometimes there are general (signs), but you can’t necessarily go by that,” Newhart said. “Possibly the biggest signs are if there has been a previous attempt by the person to kill themselves, or they are feeling depressed.

Other signs include:

n Taking unnecessary or dangerous risks

n Giving away possessions or items of importance to friends and family

n Extreme state of happiness after a spell of depression

For more information, contact Townhall II at (330) 678-3006. Or, if you need to contact the suicide prevention hotline, call (330) 678-4357 to speak to a trained professional.

Contact general assignment reporter Shelley Blundell at [email protected].