Suicide’s dark shadow touches many in area

As you read this editorial, someone in Michigan just died from suicide. And in about another six hours or so, another person will suffer the same fate. That’s what the statistics show for suicide rates in Michigan.

These figures are not to be taken lightly, considering suicide was noted as the 10th-leading cause of death among Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC studies also discovered suicide is more likely in rural areas than in urban ones.

The wide-open country of the Upper Peninsula is something many of us appreciate for its natural beauty and calm serenity, but the experts say that in rural areas there are also fewer suicide prevention resources available to people.

Ontonagon County was recognized by the CDC to have the second highest suicide rate among Michigan counties, with Iron County rounding out the top five. None of the U.P.’s 15 counties made the top five list for lowest suicide rates. The numbers are astonishing, and saddening.

Part of the problem is availability of resources, and another part is the willingness of those suffering from suicidal thoughts to seek help for themselves.

Certainly, there’s a typical stereotype of men, as being hardened to the point of possessing very few emotions, with an unwillingness to embrace or talk about their feelings.

“Men do not always recognize that they are experiencing a diagnosable mental illness such as depression or bipolar disorder,” Courtney Miner, program manager for Healthy Men Michigan, said in a Journal article. Male depression, among other things, is a risk factor for suicide, she said.

To us that means the aforementioned suicide rate is higher than it should be, and people’s lives can be saved. But there’s still a stigma around seeking help for suicidal feelings, and it’s higher among men than women. That stigma needs to change.

The trials and tribulations, and struggles of life can weigh heavy on the souls of both men and women, whether you live in an urban area or out in rural country. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get through this together as a community.

There are resources available to those struggling with suicidal thoughts or tendencies, and help is available from people who care and are willing to offer their support.

If you need to talk to someone, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Based in Houghton, the Dial Help Community Support and Outreach Center can be reached at 906-482-HELP (4357), or toll free at (800) 562-7622. You can also send a text to 906-35-NEEDS (63337), or visit www.dialhelp.org to get support online.

Great Lakes Recovery Centers, at 906-228-9696, and Pathways Community Mental Health, at 906-225-1181, are resources available locally in Marquette County, but they have locations in other parts of the U.P. as well.

In addition, 2-1-1 is a free confidential number where you can get information and referrals for health and human services resources in all of the U.P.’s 15 counties.

Find a counselor, find a therapist, or even a family member or friend you can talk to about any issues you might be having. Your life is worth a lot more than you think, especially to those who love you.

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