FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - New statistics from the Allen County Health Department show suicides in the county could be higher in 2012 compared with 2011.
As of July this year, 39 people have committed suicide. There were 44 suicide deaths in Allen County last year.
Nationally, over the last few years, there has been an increase in suicides at the same time as the recession hit. But, it's hard to pinpoint any driving force behind the Allen County deaths.
"Usually it's a complicated set of circumstances that includes hopeless feeling, like future will never get any better," Colleen Carpenter, the former director of the Indiana Cares Youth Suicide Prevention Resource Center, said.
Suicide deaths are devastating for the people left behind.
"It's a major traumatic event. It's a much more complicated grief process than other forms of death. There's guilt, shame and blame that go with [suicide] that aren't necessarily there with a car accident or cancer," Carpenter said.
Stephanie Bodie knows that firsthand. Her brother committed suicide two years ago. He was 27 years old.
"My brother didn't talk about it. We were left with a lot of the 'why' questions. It was a shock to all of us," she said.
Now she's on a mission to not make suicide a secret.
"Talking about it, getting it out there and letting people know they can talk about it is important to help it not happen so often," Bodie said.
Carpenter said talking about suicidal thoughts is actually the number one way to prevent it.
"By giving that person a chance to talk, the suicidal thoughts can start to dissolve a bit because they're being heard, being understood and they get a chance to talk about how desperate they're feeling," she said.
To help start the discussion and stamp out the stigma that often goes with suicide, Bodie is organizing the third annual Out of the Darkness walk in Fort Wayne. It also raises money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Click here for more information on the walk.
Anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Carpenter said if someone knows another person who needs help and is frustrated or concerned, they can call the hotline too.
The Allen County Health Department released the following statistics:
All Suicide Deaths in Allen County
2012 (N=39) Jan-July, Age range: 14-79, Mean age 46 years old
2011 (N =44) Jan- December, Age range: 15-91, Mean age 46 years old
Suicide Deaths in Persons under Age 30 years in Allen County
2012 (N=12) Jan - July, Age range 14 to 26 years old, Mean age 21 years old
2011 (N=10) Jan - December, age range 15 to 30 years old, mean age 23 years old
The Allen County Health Department provided the following resources:
What Can I Do?
As a healthcare provider:
• Screen for depression and suicide risk. (If you feel you/your colleagues need additional suicide risk assessment training, take the 1-hour on-line RRSR-PC course: www.suicidology.org/education-and-training/recognizing-responding-suicide-risk-primary-care.
• Couple any anti-depressant/anxiety prescription with a referral to mental health counseling. Follow up on any referral made. Closely monitor those on anti-depressants for suicide risk and relief from depressive/anxious symptoms.
• Ensure families have the national suicide prevention hotline number (1-800-273-TALK (8255)). Order free wallet cards with the number on them to distribute www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetInvolved/Materials
• Create a safety plan with any patient who is thinking of (or has recently thought about) suicide www.sprc.org/sites/sprc.org/files/library/SafetyPlanningGuide.pdf
As a parent:
• Take all warning signs seriously and ask those you are concerned about directly about suicide.
• Listen openly to their suicidal thoughts (avoid immediately resorting to problem solving) and connect them to professional resources (see above) so they can do a formal risk assessment and refer to a qualified mental health counselor.
• Form a strong safety net underneath your loved one by showing concern and checking in with them on a regular basis. If they won't get help and are in immediate danger, contact 911 and ask for a "CIT" officer who is trained to help with mental health crises, or take them to an emergency room.
• If a mental health counselor or healthcare provider doesn't create a suicide safety plan with them, work with your loved one to create one www.sprc.org/sites/sprc.org/files/library/SafetyPlanTemplate.pdf
As a public official or funder:
• Fund and support mental health services, including public awareness campaigns to educate the public about suicide prevention and promote help-seeking and training of professionals to recognize and respond to suicide.
• Park Center is a community mental health center offering a full continuum of behavioral health care for people of all ages in Allen, Adams and Wells counties. Contact them at 260-481-2700, 909 E. State Boulevard, Fort Wayne, IN 46805. www.parkcenter.org
• Bowen Center
is a comprehensive mental health center offering a wide variety of services in northeast Indiana. Contact them at 260-471-3500, 2100 Goshen Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46808, www.bowencenter.org
• Parkview Behavioral Health provides inpatient mental health treatment for children and adults. Contact them at 260-373-7500, 1720 Beacon Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46805,
• St. Joseph Behavioral Health provides inpatient, partial hospitalization and/or intensive outpatient psychiatric programs, specializing in elderly populations. Contact them at 260-425-3606, 700 Broadway, Fort Wayne, IN 46802, http://www.stjoehospital.com/Services/Behavioral%20Health/Pages/Behavioral%20Health.aspx
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), provides crisis support to suicidal individuals and their families (offers specialized lines for veterans and those who speak Spanish) and free materials at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetInvolved/Materials
• Indiana Cares Youth Suicide Prevention Resource Center's Web site provides lots of suicide-related resources for youth, families, and agencies/communities. It is housed at the IPFW Behavioral Health & Family Studies Institute which provides training and information on suicide prevention: www.indianacares.org , 260-481-6238, email@example.com.
• Suicide Aftercare Council of Allen County is working to improve support to families who have experienced a suicide death. For more information, contact Colleen Carpenter: firstname.lastname@example.org or 260-438-6763.
• We the Living is a support group for those bereaved by suicide. It meets once a month on the second Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church, 501 W Berry St, Fort Wayne, IN. Contact Jennifer for more information: email@example.com or 260-387-6934.
• Mental Health America in Allen County provides mental health education for the community, volunteer services, and assistance to clients and their families in accessing counseling/ treatment facilities. Contact them at 260-422-6441, 227 E. Washington Blvd. - Suite 300, Fort Wayne, IN 46802, http://www.mhaac.com
• Colleen Carpenter offers evidence-based training in suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention as well as tailored consultation on best practices in suicide prevention. Contact her at 260-438-6763, firstname.lastname@example.org.
• United Way of Allen County 2-1-1 maintains a listing of mental health resources on its Web site at http://www.referweb.net/uwac/docs/MentalHealthDirectory.pdf Contact them at www.211northeastindiana.org or by calling 2-1-1.
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