Tribune-Star editorial: Suicide, a difficult subject to be faced with | Editorials

Those affected by the trauma of suicide bravely took their call for awareness to the Terre Haute community on Tuesday.

Their powerful message and stories should inspire residents to engage with those struggling with mental illness or contemplating suicide, and guide them to readily available help.

Signs held by attendees of the Stand Against Suicide event at Grace Community Church at 12 Points provided valuable advice and encouragement. “Choose life! Text ‘HELP’ to 741741, 800-273-8255, National Suicide Prevention [Lifeline]“, read the sign held by the pastor of the church, the Reverend Mike Pringle.

Team of Mercy organized the rally. This was the fourth such gathering organized by the non-profit organization.

Its goal is “to bring the community together, to talk about a tough topic and raise awareness about suicide, and to spread the love,” said Christina Crist, executive director of Team of Mercy.

This mission is constantly relevant, but especially now. The Team of Mercy Facebook page reported six suicides in the Wabash Valley last week.

The rallies typically prompt a handful of calls to Team of Mercy, which partners with the Family Service Association Counseling Center, Christian Counseling Center and Coffee Clutch Counseling Services to provide services for people who have lost loved ones to suicide. Sometimes information shared at the gathering has alerted a family to signs of suicidal thoughts or suicide plans. Those few calls could mean a handful of lives saved.

Ignoring these red flags or avoiding the topic of suicide only makes the problem worse. “Unfortunately, it helps kill people,” Crist told Tribune-Star’s David Kronke. “We need to make conversations about mental health as normal as anything else.”

Transparent conversations about mental health and suicide have never been more imperative. The uncertainty and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic era has exacerbated what was already a growing problem of mental illnesses across the country and around the world.

Nationally, suicide rates among youth ages 10 to 24 rose 60% between 2007 and 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34 during the same period. Teenagers today face anxieties unlike any older generations have seen, from the threat of school shootings to climate change and the pandemic. As COVID-19 hit the country, ER visits for suicide attempts increased 22% in 2020.

Parents can look for warning signs, according to medical researchers at the University of California-Davis. These include symptoms of depression such as a child saying they feel like a burden, losing interest in usual activities, withdrawing, neglecting their appearance, increasing their substance use, or acting out, among others .

Older adults also face difficulties. Attendees at the Stand Against Suicide rally shared heartbreaking stories of parents who died by suicide and the pain of coping with the loss in the moment and years later.

Getting help from sources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and local organization Team of Mercy and others is a crucial first step for people dealing with a mental illness, such as depression, or a family member. that detects such a situation. Services from Team of Mercy and its partners are available by phone at 855-225-5550 or online at teamofmercy.com. Awareness and communication can save lives and tragedies.

Jessica C. Bell