With state suicide rates up nearly 17%, local health officials stepping up efforts to educate public on warning signs.

With state suicide rates up nearly 17%, local health officials stepping up efforts to educate public on warning signs.

Local health officials are stepping up their efforts to shed light on the stigma of depression and mental health issues that lead to suicide, especially in light of this week’s headlines on the tragic deaths of celebrity designer Kate Spade and TV chef Anthony Bourdain.

Jim Moore with the Rome Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health says 90% of all who die by suicide have mental illness.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 24,” he says. “You always need to take suicide threats seriously and don’t be afraid to communicate…ask the person directly ‘are you thinking about killing yourself’…asking that will never push them to take action, but may safe a life. They need to realize suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

As of Friday, the GBI’s Child Fatality Review Unit has received 21 reports in 2018 of youth suicides in Georgia.

The Centers for Disease Control released a report on Friday looking at trends in state suicide rates in the U.S. between 1999-2016. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and one of three leading causes that are on the rise.

Between 1996 and 2016, Georgia experienced a 16.2 percent increase in suicide rates. According to the report, the rates increased significantly in 44 states with 25 states experiencing an increase of nearly 30 percent or more.

Moore says there are some “tell-tale signs” that could indicate someone is contemplating suicide.

“We often miss some of these signs. Sometimes depressed person is feeling better and seemingly no longer depressed before taking their life. They seem to be happier because, most of the time, they have come to an understanding that they are going to go through with suicide,” he says.

“Another sign is if a person starts giving away some of their prized possessions…they have usually chosen to end their life. Another is someone acting dangerously…doing things that are not their typical behavior.”

Through NAMI, Moore and his wife, Bonnie, offer a communication class for dealing with mental illness and suicide prevention. The class called ‘Question/Persuade/Refer’ if offered for small groups including schools, churches, community groups or first responders. To schedule a class for your group, call the Moores at 706-232-4607.

Cartersville Medical Center is also drawing attention to the problem. “This week there has been a lot of conversation about the recent suicide of celebrity designer Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain, chef and Emmy-winning TV host. Mental Illness, such as depression, does not discriminate…many are suffering silently. Lack of open communication may prevent people with mental health conditions from seeking help,” the hospital posted on its Facebook page. Click here to see a link to a video they shared from sister hospital, TriStar Skyline in Nashville, on how they offered hope, treatment and broke the stigma of silence for one of their patients.

Please join us at 8:10 a.m. Monday on Hometown Headlines Radio Edition on WRGA 98.7 FM and online at wrga.streamon.fm as we talk with Debra Nantz, a national certified counselor, from Willowbrooke at Floyd on warning signs for potential suicidal tendencies, especially in light of two high-profile tragedies last week.

If you (or someone you know) are in need of help, talk to someone now. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ to chat with a counselor online. Or call the Georgia Crisis Access line at 1-800-715-4225.

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