Suicide is a major mental health issue in St. Tammany Parish. In fact, our parish had suicide rates among the highest in the state for the past several years. Here are some statistics:
2014: 47 total suicides
2015: 40 total suicides
2016: (as of end of April)
- 12 total suicides
- 1 female, 25 years old
- 11 males, 2 younger than 19 years old, 8 between 20-69 years old, and 1 between 90-99 years old
- 11 of the 12 were done through gunshot
- They were evenly distributed throughout the parish.
A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. Most people who commit suicide don’t want to die—they just want to stop hurting. Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. But talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.
Warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide:
- Talking about dying or death
- Saying goodbye, getting affairs in order
- Seeking out a means by which to do it: looking for guns, pills
- Expressing hopelessness, the belief that things just won’t and can’t get better
- Self-destructive behavior, risk taking
- Self-hatred or feeling like a burden to others
Risk factors for suicide:
- Mental illness
- Alcoholism or drug abuse
- Previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide
- Terminal illness or chronic pain
- Recent loss or stressful life event
- Social isolation and loneliness
- History of trauma or abuse (from helpguide.org)
Additional risk factors in teens:
- Low self-esteem
- Exposure to other teen suicides
- Childhood abuse or trauma
- Hostile family or school environment
- According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, look for the following warning signs:
- Change in eating and sleeping habits
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
- Violent or rebellious behavior, running away
- Drug and alcohol use
- Unusual neglect of personal appearance
- Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork
- Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
- Not tolerating praise or rewards
What you can do if you suspect someone might be contemplating suicide:
- Talk to them. Don’t be afraid to raise the topic, it won’t make a person more suicidal. Be yourself and express your concerns, be supportive and let the person know he/she is not alone in this. Let him/her know you want to help and that you care.
- Act quickly. Don’t be afraid to call 911 or the coroner’s office if you feel like things have escalated and the person is in danger. If the person has a plan laid out and the means to do it (a gun on hand for instance), then this is a high risk situation that requires immediate intervention. Call professional trained to intervene.
- Help them get help, and offer support.
Northshore Counseling & Wellness has offices in Covington, LA and provides suicide prevention & counseling for patients throughout the northshore including Mandeville, Slidell, Hammond as well as metro New Orleans.
St. Tammany Outreach for the Prevention of Suicide (STOPS): http://www.stops-la.com/home.aspx
Help Guide: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/suicide-prevention-helping-someone-who-is-suicidal.htm This is a great resource on tips for talking with someone who might be suicidal.
St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office: http://www.stpcoroner.org/mental-health.html The Coroner’s Office provides info on how to intervene in a crisis by using their services to get someone into a hospital for immediate evaluation.
Northshore Counseling and Wellness has therapists very adept at helping people who are depressed and contemplating suicide. If we can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.