With the holidays approaching and a growing uneasiness about the economy, mental health professionals are trying to let people know what to look for if someone they know is contemplating suicide.
Tracey Pace, licensed counselor with Heritage Counseling, and Rachel Wood will lead the seminar, which will be held Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. at Rincon Baptist Temple on Weisenbaker Road.
Those who attend — and Pace emphasized the seminar isn’t just for parents but is open to anyone — will learn if a person they know may be considering taking their own life.
“I want them to have an idea of what the signs and symptoms are of people who might be considering suicide,” Pace said. “not just teenagers but adults also, and to know how they can help, when to get intervention. I also want them to understand that there isn’t always a sign. Sometimes things happen that we can’t predict and people can’t feel responsible for the failure to see signs, because sometimes they don’t exist.”
Recent deaths of young people that may be attributable to suicide have helped spur a call to suicide prevention awareness. Pace also said that anyone who talks of suicide has to be taken seriously, even if they are not serious about it.
“We’ve always had referrals for suicidal statements,” she said. “But with the most recent incidents, we are seeing a great increase in referrals from physicians and parents. If somebody makes a statement, you’ve got to follow up on it.
“Sometimes kids make the statement because they’re serious. Sometimes, they make the statement because they’re mad at their parents. Sometimes they make the statement to get what they want. But you’ve got to follow up on the statement.”
While suicide among young people has gotten attention, Pace pointed out that the sector of the population most at-risk for suicide are the elderly.
The holidays also historically see a spike in suicides, and anxieties over jobs or personal wealth also are driving more people to consider taking their own lives.
“It’s a very stressful time,” Pace said. “People are out of work. Double family members are out of work.”
Suicides happen more frequently during the holidays because people are alone, Pace noted.
“We have this Dickens idea of what Christmas should be like. Everything is wonderful; the tree is trimmed, the turkey is in the oven,” she explained. “When it doesn’t fit like that, something may be wrong. But it may not be wrong. Some families are just different. A lot of families try to get together and try to re-create the Dickens Christmas and they don’t succeed and they ask, ‘what’s wrong?’”