LifeSkills of Bowling Green talks increase in suicide nationwide, signs and how to help

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling suicide a national public health problem.

Colleen Marshall, Vice President of Behavior Health for Life Skills in Bowling Green explains, “suicide is not just a mental health problem, but a societal problem.”

New CDC research from shows suicides are on the rise in all but one state across the country.

Research from 1999-2016, shows suicide increased 25% across the United States and 36% in Kentucky.

“I’ve been in the field since 1999,” Marshall says, “and I definitely see an increase in the folks that we serve. It shouldn’t be the 10th reason that people die in our country. Some of the signs we see are people actually saying it out loud—"I don’t feel like living” “I feel like a burden to you” “I don’t feel like my life is worthy” “I feel like you all would be better off without me.””

Numbers also show that in 2016, nearly 45,000 people took their lives, and more than half did not have a known mental health diagnosis.

“A lot of suicides, actually 54% aren’t with people who have depression or anxiety,” Marshall explains, “suicide sometimes comes just out of the blue.”

She says, whether it’s missed signs, signs that were known or no sign at all, if you open up a dialogue, you may be changing the course of someone’s life— “what we want to do is actually say out loud, “are you thinking of hurting yourself?” “are you thinking of killing yourself?” and using those kinds of words because it invites the conversation. People that are suicidal tend to do that in private and in secret and think about it in private and in secret and don’t necessarily reach out or ask, so if we use our best gut or instinct that something isn’t right then we can actually reach out and help somebody.”

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or know someone who is, you can reach out anonymously to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 741741.