Suicides on the rise in Rabun

With limited local resources and the number of mental-health-related incidents on the rise, knowing what to look for when someone is expressing signs of hurting is more important than ever.

According to reports from the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office, 2018 is proving to already outnumber the amount of suicide threat calls deputies were dispatched to — two having occurred most recently last week.

Although law enforcement and Emergency Medical Services both respond to suicide threats, neither can provide any referrals for out/in-patient mental health treatment according to Rabun County EMS Captain Trampes Stancil.

“Law enforcement is the lead agency,” Stancil said.

Often times law enforcement offers their assistance as much as possible, but are limited to transporting them to the nearest hospital; From there, trained healthcare personnel conduct a full mental-health evaluation and find the appropriate resources to guide the hurt to help.

But according to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the dramatic rise in suicides is “more than a mental health issue.”

While prevention efforts mainly focus on identifying and providing treatment for people with mental illness, experts say suicide is rarely caused by a single factor.

In fact, researchers found that more than half of people who died by suicide during the study period did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Other issues, including relationship problems, substance abuse, physical health problems, job- or money-related stress, legal or housing problems often contributed to risk for suicide, the report found.

Experts note that mental illness may have been underreported in the study, either because the person who killed themselves had not yet been diagnosed or because those left behind were not aware of their loved one’s condition. However, the fact that so many other factors appeared to contribute to suicide is an important finding.

“Our data suggests that suicide is more than a mental health issue,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D., said. “We think that a comprehensive approach to suicide is what’s needed. If we only look at this as a mental health issue, we won’t make the progress that we need.”

The study serves as a reminder, she says, that if someone in your life recently lost a job, ended a relationship, or is having some other life crisis, it’s important to reach out.

The CDC recommends everyone familiarize themselves with the warning signs of suicide, which may include:

  • A person thinking about or threatening suicide or seeking a way to kill themselves
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Feelings of purposelessness, anxiety, being trapped, or hopeless
  • Withdrawing from people and activities
  • Expressing unusual anger, recklessness, or mood changes

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or thinking about suicide, talk to someone who can help, such as a trusted loved one, your doctor, your licensed mental health professional if you already have one, or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.

For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.