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Bend woman who lost son to suicide gives back

Deschutes County will host Suicide Loss Survivor Day on Saturday

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- On average, two people die every day by suicide in Oregon, which is among the 10 states with highest number of reported cases, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

Carol Palmer, a mentor for victims, helps people through their trauma. But it’s a difficult task, to relive her own pain.

NewsChannel 21 spoke with Palmer on Tuesday to hear her story.

“My son was 21 when he died by suicide,” Palmer said. “He had an identical twin and an older brother who was 24.”

Palmer, who runs the Bend Compassionate Friends bereavement group, said the family did not want to celebrate the following Christmases the way it always had.

“People have to do what works for them and not try to meet other people’s needs during the holidays,” she said.

The OHA said the suicide rate among people between the ages of 10 and 24 has increased.

Palmer said suicide and mental health issues such as depression also affect the elderly, and it’s a problem that is often overlooked.

“They suffer a lot of lack of social opportunities and those things that have sustained them in the past,” Palmer said. “The holidays are a particularly difficult time for most people.”

Whitney Schumacher, the suicide prevention coordinator for Deschutes County Health Services, says suicide can affect anyone, regardless of race, age, sex or gender.

For elders suffering from loneliness, both Schumacher and Palmer recommend the Friendship Line, a help line for adults over 65 or who have a disability. 

“It’s a loneliness line. You don’t have to be in crisis to talk to someone if you’re lonely,” Schumacher said.

In Deschutes County, Schumacher said, people are opening up more often in recent years, when it comes to talking about suicide.

“Part of the challenge for people the world over is that there’s been such a stigma attached to suicide and mental illness," she said.

On Saturday, Deschutes County is participating in the Suicide Survivor Loss Day, an international event that provides support and healing for people who have lost someone in their lives to suicide. The event will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Bend at 1:30 p.m.

For a list of resources and support groups to help you get through tough times, visit the "Let's Talk" page under the Community tab on our website.

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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.


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