Suicide Rates are on the Rise… What can be done? By: Jen Holper, MA, LSW

This week alone two celebrities have lost their battle with mental illness by taking their own lives. CNN reported on a survey published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016.

Many are now sharing their sadness and praying for the loved ones of those who have died. Many are sharing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK, put this in your phone now… you never know when you could use it for yourself or a loved one).  What we are seeing through the coverage is that no one is immune to mental illness, or suicidal thoughts or actions.

What are we to do to bring about change, to make it easier to people to seek help?

Here are a few things you can do today to have an impact on you, your family, and your community.

  1. Check in with yourself.  Take an honest look at your moods, relationships, and coping skills.  Could you benefit from seeking therapy?  Could you benefit from talking to your doctor about concerns around depression, anxiety, mood swings, anger?  If so, take action – make a call and get an appointment scheduled.  As they say in the airline business – please secure your own oxygen mask first.  Take care of you, so that you will be able to take care of others.
  2. Speaking of others.  Call, text, message your loved ones and ask them how they are truly doing.  Going by numbers alone – we all know/love someone who is dealing with mental illness.  Ask them how they are feeling.  If they would like to get a cup of coffee this week, go for a walk, go to a movie together.  Connection matters!
  3. Learn More!  The Science Museum of Minnesota is home to the Mental Health: Mind Matters Exhibit, open now through January 6th.  This space is designed to educate about mental illness while also fostering a safe space for open conversations about mental illness.

We all have a stake in reducing stigma.  The time to act is now!