Depression common sign during the holidays
Many people with depression do not realize they have a treatable illness and do not seek treatment.
Sav-A-Life of Monroe County executive director Dana Copeland, is often called upon by pastors, schools, family and friends to talk to students, and often, adults with depression and mental health issues.
“Teens seem to romanticize suicide. At least, that has been my observation. If one person attempts it, others will follow them,” Copeland said.
Copeland has dealt with adults in cutting and self injury or who have set fires to relieve their stress.
“I tell them the brain is an organ. If you break your leg, you wouldn’t go to a heart doctor. Well, when the brain is sick you have to go to a doctor who treats that.
“I encourage them to go to a psychiatrist for a diagnosis for treatment and medicine. They can get the proper medication from psychiatrists which are not habit forming drugs and that treat symptoms only,” Copeland said.
Sav-A-Life offers support service to those suffering from depression. They walk through the depression with the person.
Copeland said gray skies, rainy days, holidays, housewife blues, etc., are seasonal reasons why some people go through depression.
“We refer people to mental health facilities so they can get an evaluation, or they can go to their personal physician to get a referral. There are good clinical counseling locations in Tupelo and Columbus,” Copeland said.
She said that oftentimes Christians are afraid of psychiatrists, but that Hope Ministries in Tupelo is an excellent source for Christian counseling.
“When we get someone who is suffering with depression and mental health problems, we don’t sit on them, we refer them immediately. We try to get them to the right person to walk them through it,” Copeland said.
Copeland can recall around a dozen suicides or suicide attempts.
“We have to treat everything we get as real,” she said.
Copeland also said that September is Suicide Awareness Month.
Sav-A-Life is partnering with American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in their “Out of the Darkness” community walks to help raise awareness of suicide. They will be actively involved in a 2013 walk with “Out of the Darkness.”
In the Mississippi Youth Risk Behavior survey, Mississippi scored significantly higher than the national average for youth attempting suicide in the past 12 months, and that required medical attention.
When a person either attempts or commits suicide in the county, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office receives a call.
“When we get to the scene, we try to talk to the person or a family member, if they have not harmed themselves,” said Brandon Davis, a lieutenant and criminal investigator with the MCSO.
“The law does not allow us to leave them by themselves. We get in touch with mental health officials and get them set up for help, if possible. We may have to take them to the hospital. It all depends on the state they are in,” Davis said.
Davis said the MCSO has responded to six suicides since January. He said that it can be family, divorce, financial or drug problems that cause the person to commit suicide.
The sheriff’s department takes any threat of someone who says they are going to kill themselves seriously.
“We talk to them or get someone to talk to them. We don’t know if they are really serious or not, but we don’t take any chances. We want to make sure the person gets help for their situation,” Davis said.
Davis said extra training in mental health issues is not required, but officers are taught in their law enforcement training how to handle depression and suicide calls.
“We are not counselors, but we are taught the steps to handle calls like this,” Davis said.
Davis said it was devastating to handle suicide calls when someone’s life could possibly have been saved if they had gotten help.
“I always wonder what is going through their mind to take their own life. All their family’s lives will be forever changed from their death,” Davis said.
Davis said the holidays are a bad time for some people in dealing with the loss of a loved one.
The latest statistics available on depression/suicide are from 2010:
• Only 50 percent of persons diagnosed with major depression receive any kind of treatment.
• Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
• Up to 15 percent of those who are clinically depressed die by suicide.
• Every 13.7 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide.
• Nearly 1,000,000 people make a suicide attempt every year.
• 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
• Most people with mental illness do not die by suicide.
• Depression is a potentially life-threatening mood disorder that affects one in six persons in the U.S.
• Men are nearly four times more likely to die by suicide than women. Women attempt suicide three times as often as men.
• Suicide rates are highest for people between the ages of 40 and 59.
Although most people who are depressed do not kill themselves, depression that goes untreated increases the risk of suicide.
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About Alice Ortiz
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