Suicide numbers often see spike during springtime

Members of the Wood County Suicide Prevention Coalition meet.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

Springtime is the season of flowers, sunshine, warmer temperatures – and suicides.

Twenty years of statistics collected by the Wood County Suicide Prevention Coalition show the highest rate of suicides is seen in April. Since 1999, there have been 26 suicides recorded in the county during the month of April, compared to the lowest number of nine during the month of December.

Knowing this, the coalition members talked recently about increasing the public service announcements about suicide as spring approaches.

It is believed that the seasonal changes that bring many people out of winter doldrums may work against those with severe depression. To some, springtime is believed to provide the boost of energy required for executing a suicide plan. To people with severe depression, the contrast between a blooming world and the barren inner life of the clinically depressed can be too much for them to bear.

Some researchers note that the sunlight-driven changes in levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin may make people more aggressive and, if they are depressed, they could direct that aggression at themselves.

The Wood County Suicide Prevention Coalition is also aware that more men than women take their lives. Last year, of the 18 suicides reported in the county, only one was a woman.

So the organization talked about promoting the “Man Therapy” campaign. The online campaign, at mantherapy.org, was created in response to the realization that nationally men take their lives through suicide four times more often than women.

Using humor, the website offers men a 20-question “head inspection.” It then provides tips on reducing stress and getting active. Videos show testimonials by other men talking about their experiences with depression, and how to handle difficult emotions.

The coalition members also talked about the “Momo challenge,” being reported nationally by parents. Hackers have reportedly been able to insert images into kids cartoons on YouTube. The images show a creepy woman encouraging children to harm themselves, and threatens to harm their parents if the children say anything to them.

Coalition members suggested that parents talk to their children about the possibility of that image popping up during cartoons on YouTube.

In an effort to reach out to the community, the Wood County Suicide Prevention Coalition will hold a free training on how to respond to people wanting to cause self-harm, on May 29, from 6:30 to 8 pm., in Way Public Library in Perrysburg. It is hoped that another training will be held at the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green later in the year.

The program focuses on QPR Training, which stands for question, persuade and refer.

“If you think someone’s suicidal, what can you do to help them,” Aimee Coe, coalition co-chairperson, said. “When you’re in an emergency, people tend to get nervous.”

In addition to training, the coalition will also be handing out gun locks and Deterra packets, which dissolve drugs. Guns and drugs are the most used methods of suicide in the county.

“If we can give people access to ways to prevent suicides, we’re going to do that,” Coe said.

Wood County has seen a spike in suicides in the last six years. In 2012, there were seven suicides recorded in the county. That number more than doubled to 13 in 2013. And since then, the numbers have not dropped below double digits.

The reports show 14 in 2014, 17 in 2015, 21 in 2016, 13 in 2017, and 18 in 2018.

In recent years, the highest rate of suicide locally was seen in people between the ages of 45 to 64, according to statistics from the Wood County Suicide Prevention Coalition. The second highest age group was 25 to 44.

The coalition also heard an update on the Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group, which is held every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, from 6 to 7 p.m., in the Zepf Center, at 219 S. Church St., Bowling Green.

Anyone with questions about the support group may call 419-841-7701, ext. 9000.

Help for people who may harm themselves is available at the following numbers:

  • Wood County Recovery Helpline, dial 211
  • Unison Health, 419-502-4673
  • Children’s Resource Center for those under 18 years old, 419-352-7588
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line, text 4HOPE to 741741
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