By Melanie VanderPol-Bailey, MSW
Losing a loved one to suicide is a tragedy that is on the rise in our country. In fact, according to the South Dakota Department of Health’s January 2017’s Suicide Surveillance Report, we have the 14th highest suicide rate in the United States. In South Dakota, suicide is the 9th leading cause of death and young men ages 19-21 are at greatest risk. As communities need to treat this issue the same way we would if we saw a bear on our path- by getting big, getting loud, and not running away.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. It is time to have the courage to tackle the stigma and shame that has been incorrectly associated with mental health. So often people feel (and frequently are) alone in their pain. We generally do not know when others are hurting because no one is talking about it.
Rurally we tend to be a past tense group of individuals. We don’t predict the weather; we deal with the outcome. We are eager to discuss things after the fact. It is time to become proactively involved in the welfare of each other. We have a crisis on our hands and we are losing beloved members of our communities.
Understanding and normalizing mental health is a good place to start. If you have concerns about someone, reach out. We meet you where you are, offering hope. To schedule an appointment, you can call 605-334-2696.
Common warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide:
- Threatening to hurt or kill oneself
- Talking, writing or posting on social media about death, dying or suicide
- Change in personality or engaging in risky activities
- Agitation, anger or seeking revenge- a dramatic shift in mood
- Withdrawing from family, friends or society
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (talk)
- 24 hour Crisis Text Line -Text “START” to 741-741