By Ann Murrin, LPC
As the seasons change, we look forward to more hours of sunlight. We look forward to driving home from work while there is still light, sending the kids outside to play for just a little longer, time for evening walks, and sipping beverages on the front patio. Unfortunately more sunlight brings the hardest time of year for some people. It has been proven year in and year out that suicide rates rise in the spring, with the peak in April and May. Colorado is no exception. In 2012 more Coloradoans died by suicide then ever before. In Larimer County alone 69 people died from suicide in 2012, and in Weld County suicides nearly doubled from 14 in 2012 to 24 in 2013.
There are things we can do, and most people contemplating suicide do show signs. These signs include:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill ones self.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to love.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings, or
- Seeking out ways to oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
Additional signs may include preoccupation with death, suddenly happier, calmer, loss of interest in things one cares about, visiting or calling people to say goodbye, making arrangements; getting one’s affairs in order, or giving things away, such as prized possessions.
Suicide does not just effect a sector of the population, but is prevalent in all age groups from pre-teens to seniors, and both genders, with males completing the most suicides.
If someone you know is exhibiting these signs try to start a dialogue, asking specific questions about the persons thoughts about committing suicide, do not keep a suicide plan a secret, and try to avoid shaming the person into changing their mind. There are many resources available, including a national suicide prevention lifeline 1-800-273-TALK, Help the person make contact with a local counselor. For men who feel uncomfortable talking about their feelings they can visit ManTherapy.org, this services provides a safe place for men to understand what they are going through using humor and “man speak”. Most importantly if you feel the person in your life is unsafe, visit your local emergency room for immediate evaluation and help.
(Resources: Colorado Department of Health & Environment, Larimer.org, CDC.gov, SAVE, and greeleytribune.com)
Ann Murrin is a Licensed Professional Counselor who is an independent practitioner at Lakeside Counseling of Loveland. She specializes in adolescents, couples, and families, including mood-disorders, depression & anxiety.