Suicides, attempts on the rise


DARKE COUNTY — No community is exempt from suicide whether it be an attempt or a completion. That includes Darke County, which seems to be experiencing a rash of suicides or attempted suicides lately.

Darke County 9-1-1 Coordinator Melissa Hawes said both Greenville Police and Darke County Sheriff have had 31 related calls so far this year.

“We get our fair share of suicide calls,” she said. “We’ve had a couple of calls lately. “Most calls are about threatening suicide voiced to family members that they’re contemplating suicide.”

Hawes, who also used to be a police officer in Greenville, said she had never been on the scene of an actual suicide but recalls having to respond as an officer to do a welfare check on people.

“Other than third-party callers checking on a relative, nothing comes to mind,” she said. “It’s very rare we get a first-person caller.”

The 9-1-1 coordinator advises those contemplating suicide or anybody you know considering it to reach out to someone who is willing to listen.

“Ninety-five percent want someone to listen to them,” Hawes said.

“In the 12-plus years I have worked in EMS I have, unfortunately, been on the scene of many suicides both attempted and completed,” said Renea McCleskey, paramedic with Ansonia Area Emergency Services and Union City Fire Department. “My experience has been that the person who attempts/completes suicide leaves many more questions than answers. Family members are often taken unawares and are devastated. We often find that the person has made the attempt numerous times before being successful. Some people will contact relatives before making the attempt. In those cases, we may be contacted in time to save the person. Those who don’t contact anyone are the ones that are most successful in completing the act.”

A near suicide, she explained, is a suicide attempt that is not successful.

“The person is found before they die,” McCleskey said. “In the case of overdose, the squad is called and is able to administer drugs to reverse the overdose. In the case of a shooting the person is found and treatment to save their life is provided in time.”

Attempted suicide and threats of suicide, according to McCleskey, are the most common calls.

“We respond to these calls pretty frequently,” she said. “Sometimes they are legitimate threats. Sometimes not. Overdose is probably the most common route of attempting suicide. Self-inflicted gunshot wounds, hanging, stabbing and intentional car accidents are also ways that we have unfortunately seen in this area.”

What would her advice me to survivors and family members be?

“That’s difficult,” she said. “Survivors of attempts deal with many issues…from the feelings of hopelessness that led to the attempt to embarrassment and guilt. My hope is that those who have made or contemplated the attempt will reach out to someone and ask for help. The crisis hotline is always available to help. Family members of those who have completed suicide need to know that it is not their fault. Many families have no idea that their loved one is contemplating something like this. Families need to reach out to others for support. There are survivors groups here in the area such as SOUL.”

The phone number for the Tri-County Crisis Hotline that serves Miami, Darke and Shelby counties is 1-800-351-7347, Hawes reported.

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, there are signs that may mean someone is at risk for suicide.

“The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change,” a spokesperson said. “If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).”

The signs are:

• Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.

• Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun

• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.

• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

• Talking about being a burden to others.

• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.

• Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.

• Sleeping too little or too much.

• Withdrawing or isolating themselves.

• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

• Displaying extreme mood swings.

“SAVE uses the most current data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” the spokesperson said. “In 2013, there were 41,149 deaths by suicide in the United States. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death; homicide ranks 16th. It is the second leading cause of death for 15 – 24 year olds. For more data, you may visit www.cdc.gov or www.who.int. For more comprehensive data, visit the CDC website’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS)”

Here are some facts that appeared on the web:

• Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. for all ages. (CDC)

• The suicide rates decreased from 1990-2000 from 12.5 suicides per 100,000 to 10.4 per 100,000. Over the past decade, however, the rate has again increased to 12.1 per 100,000. Every day, approximately 105 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)

• There is one death by suicide in the US every 13 minutes. (CDC)

• Depression affects 20-25 percent of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)

• Suicide takes the lives of more than 38,000 Americans every year. (CDC)

• Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)

• Eighty to 90 percent of people who seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication. (TAPS study)

• An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).

• There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)

• There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts in the elderly. (CDC)

• Suicide among males is four times higher than among females. Male deaths represent 79 percent of all US suicides. (CDC)

• Firearms are the most commonly used method of suicide among males (51 percent). (CDC)

• Access to firearms is associated with a significantly increased risk of suicide. (NAMI)

• Females are more likely than males to have had suicidal thoughts. (CDC)

• Females experience depression at roughly two times the rate of men.(SMH)

• Females attempt suicide three times as often as males. (CDC)

• Poisoning is the most common method of suicide for females. (CDC)

• One in 100,000 children ages 10 to 14 die by suicide each year. (NIMH)

• Seven in 100,000 youth ages 15 to 19 die by suicide each year. (NIMH)

• 12.7 in 100,000 young adults ages 20-24 die by suicide each year. (NIMH)

• The prevalence of suicidal thoughts, suicidal planning and suicide attempts is significantly higher among adults aged 18-29 than among adults aged 30+. (CDC)

• Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-old Americans. (CDC)

• Suicide rates among the elderly are highest for those who are divorced or widowed. (SMH)

• The highest suicide rates in the US are among Whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives.

(Sources: CDC – Center for Disease Control, WHO – World Health Organization, AAS – American Association of Suicidology, NAMI- National Alliance on Mental Illness, NIMH – National Institute of Mental Health, SMH – Screening for Mental Health).

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