Suicide prevention: never be afraid to reach out for help

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CULLMAN – In the early hours of Thursday morning, Jeremy Kilpatrick wrote and posted a plea on his Cullman County Coroner’s Office Facebook page urging people who are experiencing suicidal ideation to reach out and ask for help. (https://www.facebook.com/CullmanCountyCornersOffice)

He speaks of his personal experience with a suicide in his family that took a devastating toll on them before going on to say, “If you are thinking about hurting yourself or if you know someone who is thinking about taking their own life, I urge you and them to seek help. Please don't hurt yourself. There are many options available to help you. Please reach out for help.”

In an early morning conversation with Kilpatrick, he stated that seven individuals took their lives in Cullman County last year, as he recollects.

While there is still no one single factor that causes suicide, it “most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition. Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed or untreated,” according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Julie, a 36-year-old in Cullman, shares her history with mental illness including depression. “I don’t remember when the depression started or if it’s always been there. I attempted suicide a few times when I was in my early 20s but have only thought about it occasionally since then. It comes in waves and sometimes I go years without feeling the intense sadness and apathy. It really seems to have a lot to do with whether or not I’m taking good care of myself physically, mentally and emotionally. That’s what I was taught in therapy a long time ago.

“I talk about how I feel now instead of hiding it. I sort of tell on myself, I guess, when I’m in the dark hole and can’t find my way out. Putting a voice to my hurt took the power out of it. It doesn’t always fix it, and at times I still need help from a therapist or with antidepressants, but I’m willing to do that now instead of suffer. I don’t like to suffer anymore and try to use positive coping skills when I’m overwhelmed.”

Warning signs can hold the clue to a person’s suicidal thoughts. They include talking about not having a reason to live or feeling trapped, withdrawing from usual activity and family and friends, giving away possessions, depressed moods or fits of rage or anxiety and traumatic life events such as divorce, the death of a loved one and bullying. Additionally, if there is a family history of suicide, a person has an increased chance of doing the same.

Over 42,000 Americans lose their battle with mental illness and succumb to suicide each year, averaging 117 suicides each and every day in this country. Suicide rates are the highest in ages 45 and up and firearms account for almost half of the deaths, making them the most common method. Psychotherapy and medication are the most effective methods to treat depressive disorders, which are the leading cause of suicide.

For more information, please visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at www.afsp.org or call 1-888-333-AFSP or see the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY IN CRISIS, CALL 1-800-273-TALK (8255) IMMEDIATELY.

Never be ashamed to reach out for help!