Preventing the Loss of a Loved One
By Sue Singelyn, Case manager/Supports coordinator at Newaygo County Mental Health
May is National Mental Health Month and we asked the folks from Newaygo County Mental Health to provide us with a series of articles to help promote awareness of the resources available for those seeking help. In this sixth installment Sue Singelyn speaks to being aware of suicidal signs in those around us.
One of the things I love most about living in Newaygo County is the casual exchanges with other people at the shops, post office, veterinarian, and passersby, usually talking about the weather. Michiganders are so friendly and caring! Sadly, the Coronavirus has changed some of these pleasantries into “seemingly small” losses. Over time, these losses can accumulate, adding up to increased depression, anxiety, feelings of loneliness, guilt, sadness and often increased thoughts of suicide. Our staff at CMH are trained and on high alert to look for suicidal signs and changes in our clients, but we can only monitor those who come in or call for support, leaving some gaps. Our staff are deeply concerned about safety, not only for our clients, but for those residing in the community as a whole. We can all help by being engaged, on high alert, and looking out for one another to fill the gaps with the hope and expectation of keeping everyone in our community safe.
Three months into the pandemic there are no solid statistics on increased suicide rates. However, half of Americans polled have said the pandemic is harming their mental health. One emergency hotline for people in emotional distress recorded a 1000% increase in April alone. We can extrapolate these and other trends to equal increased suicide rates, however, we can take steps to monitor our loved ones and reach out with concerns.
It can be difficult to determine if someone is serious about committing suicide. For example, people are posting on social media about intentions of committing suicide, which can be for many reasons that may or may not be sincere. However, every threat should be taken seriously and reaching out to professionals who can help is critical to finding answers and keeping everyone safe. It is a myth that asking someone if they are having suicidal thoughts will increase their chances of harming themselves. Asking shows you care and it is one of the most important things we can do when we are concerned about someone, both for them and for ourselves.
Most people who die by suicide tell someone they plan to hurt themselves, however, there are many signs that are more subtle. Following are listed some questions you can ask that might be “seemingly small” that, if recognized with action taken, can prevent loss of a loved one or a community member. Suicide is preventable. You do not have to know how serious a person is about suicide in order to help, just reach out and ask. Certainly if you recognize any of these signs in yourself, it’s very important that you reach out to us as well.
Through these difficult times, one thing that remains stable is the enduring caring and concern we have for each other, our friends, family and community. Caring for ourselves and others is a powerful gift we can give each other through these difficult times. Please contact us, we are here to help.
As a reminder, our crisis line is available for anyone and can be accessed 24/7 by calling 231-689-7580; Newaygo County Mental Health is ready to care for you.
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