'Educate and support' are the keys during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- September is recognized each year as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and suicide is one of the leading causes of preventable death in Oregon.
Bend therapist Diane Louise, co-facilitator of the Suicide Bereavement Support Group, says of suicide: "It's a permanent fix to a temporary problem."
Louise's 46-year-old brother died by suicide on July 16, 2006. His death compelled her to become a therapist, to support others who struggle with their mental health or dealing with grief.
"It's the most desperate act anyone can do," Louise said.
"I miss my brother every day, it does not… It should not happen.”
As you might expect, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an added layer of stress for people struggling with their mental health, and Louise says the attendees of the support group struggled even more with the isolation of COVID -- so much so, they increased monthly meetings to twice a month.
“We were meeting online, and we were still having 12 to 14 people coming each month online --and probably two new losses every time, which is huge for such a small community," Louise said.
The Central Oregon Suicide Prevention Alliance reports at least one person dies by suicide a week in Deschutes County. The Oregon Health Authority reports the state suicide deaths in 2021 are similar to corresponding months in 2020.
Deschutes County Suicide Prevention Coordinator Caroline Suiter says that while the numbers might look similar on paper, suicide ideation is a non-linear health concern.
“We always like to highlight that even though suicide is a complex health issue, it’s not just one reason as to why people struggle with this health issue," Suiter said.
Suiter told NewsChannel 21, there are key signs to look out for to help people who might be considering death by suicide. Major risk factors include but are not limited to the misuse or abuse of alcohol or drugs, previous attempts of suicide, mental disorders, and family members or loved ones who died by suicide.
Diane Louise says oftentimes there are noticeable signs, and she recommends ways to help them.
"The best thing to do is to notice, are they depressed, or isolating themselves from other people?" Louise says. "'Are they not doing the things they normally do?' 'Are they starting to give away some of their belongings?'
And the best thing to do is to ask, and the right way to ask is to say, "Are you thinking of harming yourself?'"
Experts say if you think someone needs help, don't be afraid to ask, and help them connect to a support system which can include a lifeline, clergy, therapists and friends.
If you're struggling with suicide ideation, reach out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800- 273-8255 or the Deschutes County Crisis Line, 800-875-7364. KTVZ.COM has more resources to help on our Let's Talk page.