As part of my role with the Hendricks County Mental Health and Wellness Coalition, and as QPR Instructor , I check in regularly with the Coroner’s office for updated statistics on local suicides. On a recent call, an employee shared the numbers and then remarked, “but we haven’t entered our busy season yet.”
The remark shook me a bit. Why do we accept that there is a “busy season” for suicides? Why do we just assume that we’re going to see more suicides at a particular time of year, as if there isn’t anything we can do about it?
It illustrates one of the most frustrating aspects about suicide. We understand the factors that lead to suicidal thoughts. We’ve created supports to intervene and help people who are considering death by suicide, from nationwide hotlines to local mental health providers. We know how to recognize the signs and stop it from happening. But as a society, we’re still afraid to talk honestly and directly about suicide.
Sadly, it’s true that the number of suicides and attempted suicides increases during this time of year. We know the reasons. People tend to be more depressed during the winter because there’s less sunlight to fill their bodies with Vitamin D, and they struggle with the negative effects of the holidays. People enter the holiday season with high expectations and then find themselves in the middle of family fights and estrangement. There are sad reminders of loved ones we’ve lost and grieving for times and people in our past. As January arrives, we realize we didn’t achieve our goals for the year, and then the mail brings huge credit card bills. We’ve seen the formula: isolation + burdensomeness + hopelessness. Yet, through it all, we’re overwhelmed by Fakebook and Instagram posts showing us how great other people seem to be doing (#mylifeisperfect #isntyourstoo… insert eyeroll).
Suicide isn’t a solution for feeling alone, like a burden, or to feeling hopeless about life’s situation. There are many things in life that give us second chances … suicide isn’t one of them. It’s nearly always a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I say it often, “we don’t get a re-do when it comes to suicide.”
Cant’ we work together to end this idea that it’s normal to have a “busy season” for suicides? Let us train you or your group or business about the QPR method that has been proven to help people who are thinking about suicide. (Do you know CPR? QPR is even easier.) We can come to your workplace, your church, your organization, or wherever to help others better understand the warning signs and know the simple steps anyone can take to keep people from making the wrong decision. Contact us today so we can work together to save lives.
(If you’re thinking about suicide, know that help is available for you. Your life is important and tomorrow needs you. Please find someone who you can talk to. You can text 741741 right now to connect with someone who cares and will listen, or you can call us and sit down with one of our professionals. Please don’t delay, because the sooner you find help, the faster you’ll find your way out of the darkness.)
April Bordeau is t he Director of Care to Change. A licensed clinical social worker, she has focused on helping children and families overcome challenges in their lives for over two decades.