Thousands of people in the Brazos Valley are affected by suicide every year, and it’s time to talk about it more, said Doug Vance, president of the Brazos Valley Coalition on Suicide Prevention (BVCOSP).
“It’s the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about because it’s hard to talk about,” Vance said. “How do you talk about the death of a loved one or your struggles with depression or suicidal thoughts? »
Vance officially founded BVCOSP with a group of friends in 2019 with the initial goal of breaking the stigma around suicide. Today it has expanded to offer education, training, peer support, advocacy and crisis intervention.
Vance was the guest speaker at the College Station Noon Lions Club meeting on Monday and described suicide as “an equal opportunity killer,” saying it impacts all segments of society. “Men, women, old, young, successful, unsuccessful, rich, poor, middle class; it’s non-discriminatory in that sense,” he said. “…It affects a lot of people, and it’s increasing.”
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Dean Schneider, service club president, said it was an important program to present to the group.Before Vance addressed the Hilton College Station and Conference Center community organization, College Station Mayor Karl Mooney — on his behalf, Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson and Brazos County Judge Duane Peters — spoke read a proclamation recognizing September as National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month and BVCOSP’s work in the community.
In the proclamation, Mooney read that the number of teenage suicide deaths has risen more than 56% since 2007 with a recent survey revealing an average of 10% of Texas high school students attempting suicide over a 12-month period. .
The statistic, Vance said, comes from a survey conducted every two years in Texas high schools that covered many topics, including a couple on suicide or self-harm. The latest report showed that 10% of high school students in Texas responded that they had attempted suicide in the 12 months prior to the survey.
The survey did not yield specific answers for high schools, he said, but if local schools matched that 10% average, that would translate to hundreds of local high school students.
“It wasn’t thought (or) made a plan (or) wished they were dead,” he said. “It actually took a pill, cut his wrist, did something like that to try and kill himself. And these are the ones who self-declared. How many wouldn’t say nothing about it? … The numbers are quite staggering. Our children suffer more than many parents realize; more than I thought.
Doris Carter, who operates private practice Rise and Thrive Counseling Services, said there needed to be more support in the local community and especially for children and teenagers, saying they made up a large part of her clientele .
“They struggle with suicidal thoughts, and they struggle to find places to go to talk about their feelings and just process a lot of things,” she said.
The most important thing, she said, is to make sure people understand that it’s okay to talk about it and that there are people here to help.
“We need to have this conversation,” she said. “Don’t be afraid because if they’re thinking about it, the goal is already there, and the only way to solve a problem is to acknowledge it and accept that it’s there. And then we can work on it. »
Jill Tribe, executive director of the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said it’s also important to ask the right questions.
“It’s so important, if you really get to the point where you think someone might be suicidal, to say, ‘Are you going to kill yourself?'” she said. “If the answer is yes, (then) the next question will be: ‘Do you have a way?’ If it’s yes, (then) ‘Do you have a time?’ If so, then it’s an immediate call to 9-1-1 because they’ve already made their decision.
“They know they’re going to do it; they know how they are going to do it and they know when they are going to do it.
People tend to think talking about suicide is going to put suicidal thoughts in someone’s mind, Tribe said, but it doesn’t. A person’s job, once they have reason to believe someone is considering suicide, is to help prevent that from happening, she said.
Suicide has always been viewed as a private mental health issue, Vance said, and while that is so, it must also be viewed as a public health crisis.
“The good news is that suicide is largely preventable,” he said, “through caretaker treatment and training and recognizing someone’s struggles and how to provide support. ugly”.
The first question can be the hardest, he said, because people think it’s none of their business.
“We want to make it our business, if you know the person well enough,” Vance said.
Tribe said she’s seen how difficult it can be for people to ask the toughest questions, but said practice helps.
“It’s amazing how much just practicing getting words out of your mouth helps,” she said, saying people who take some of the courses offered at NAMI find it difficult to wonder. “…As you practice verbalizing this, it actually becomes easier to do.”
Statistics, Vance said, show that about 135 to 140 people die by suicide each day in the United States, but that number is likely much higher because suicides are often officially classified as accidental deaths.
In the Brazos Valley, he said, more than 50 people die by suicide every year, and each of those people affects 115 people who knew the person, 25 of whom suffer “major life disruption” afterward. the death of the person.
This translates to 6,000 people affected by suicide each year in the Brazos Valley and 1,300 people experiencing major life disruption, Vance said.
Vance encouraged people to contact a family member, teacher, spouse, professional counselor or organization such as BVCOSP or NAMI for help.
BVCOSP and NAMI both offer courses that help educate people on the signs and symptoms to look for when someone is in pain.
Tribe said signs and symptoms can start slowly with isolation and children staying in their rooms more or adults missing more work. The two main signs that people miss the most, she said, are people giving away items or trying to make amends with people.
Both BVCOSP and NAMI offer classes and peer support groups for those who are suffering, survivors and loved ones of those who have committed suicide.
For more information about BVCOSP, email Vance at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 979-450-1752. To connect with NAMI Brazos Valley for free support services, classes, or to meet with a Peer Support Specialist, contact Tribe at email@example.com.
The national suicide and crisis helpline is 988. The old suicide hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is still available as well.