Record editorial: Don’t wait until tomorrow to learn the warning signs of suicide
What are the warning signs of suicide? What should one do if someone they know is exhibiting them? Where can someone experiencing suicidal thoughts turn for help?
For many people in our community, these questions are not merely hypothetical. It is likely most Summit County residents know someone who has committed suicide or attempted to commit suicide. And the risk of a friend or loved one becoming suicidal is ever-present as depression and mental illness are health issues that can affect anyone, regardless of wealth, social status or any other factor.
That’s why every Summit County resident should know the answers to those questions. But for those who don’t, the next few days are a perfect time to learn. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and residents should mark the month by becoming prepared to take helpful action if they or someone in their lives becomes suicidal.
Don’t wait until tomorrow because tomorrow could be too late. Utah has long had one of the nation’s highest suicide rates, and experts have also noted that many western mountain resort towns, in particular, struggle with the issue.
The coronavirus pandemic has only heightened the urgency. On top of the despair that comes with losing a job, the death of a loved one or falling seriously ill — as well as the existential worry that accompanies such a frightening time — it just so happens that something that is harmful for our mental health is one of the best ways to avoid contracting the disease. Humans are not wired to be isolated. For many people, the lack of contact with others has been the most challenging aspect of the last six months.
Since the early days of the pandemic, mental health advocates have worried about the toll it would take on mental health. The data thus far shows there was good cause for alarm: According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in late June, 40% of American adults “reported struggling with mental health or substance use,” and 11% seriously considered suicide.
It’s impossible to determine whether those numbers reflect the reality in Summit County, but if they do, that would mean hundreds of people here have considered suicide recently.
Suicide is a danger that no community can run from. So we must become educated.
You might save the life of a loved one — or maybe even your own.
There are several suicide-prevention resources available. Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts can call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. The National Alliance on Mental Health Utah offers a number of programs to help people who are struggling with depression. They can be found at namiut.org. Connect Summit County, a local nonprofit, also provides mental health resources at connectsummitcounty.org.
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