Suicide risk higher during holiday season

Suicide numbers for the Yampa Valley are already high for the year.

There have been five suicide deaths in Moffat County thus far this year and 10 in Routt County.

“I’m sick about Routt. We had five last year and we’re double,” said Ronna Autrey, suicide prevention coordinator for Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide. “But, it ties in with the state numbers and the whole country being up.”

And now, with the holiday season here, Autrey warns that suicide risk may even increase.

In recent years, those committing suicide in the Yampa Valley have often been men ages 45 to 65 and many times, the suicide comes on the heels of the breakup of a romantic relationship.

“And they’re not seeking help,” Autrey said. “Very often, they’re self medicating with drugs and alcohol, and throw in a relationship breakup, and it just tips the scale.”

Ronna said that during the celebratory season, the “idea of being thrown into family gatherings and holiday parties” is a daunting one for those suffering from depression or other disorders.

“Plus everybody’s happy, and if you’re depressed, that’s tough,” Autrey said. “It’s a really tough time for them.”

She urges those suffering to not exclude themselves from holiday gatherings altogether, however. Isolation can be hurtful, as well, she said.

Autrey said families and friends of those suffering should support that person and allow them to decline invitations for large parties or to take breaks during the gatherings.

She also noted that communication between families and those suffering goes a long way to helping them

feel supported.

The REPS organization offers the warning signs below to help those with loved ones suffering, or to identify someone at risk of suicide.

Warning signs

Changes in activity or energy level such as:

• Decreased energy

• Fatigue

• Lethargy

• Diminished activity

• Insomnia or hypersomnia

• Loss of interest in pleasurable activities

• Social withdrawal

Physical changes:

• Unexpected aches and pains

• Weight loss or gain

• Decreased or increased appetite

• Psychomotor agitation or retardation

Emotional pain:

• Prolonged sadness

• Unexplained, uncontrollable crying

• Feelings of guilt

• Feelings of worthlessness

• Loss of self-esteem

• Despair

• Hopelessness/helplessness

Difficult moods:

• Irritability

• Anger

• Worry/anxiety

• Pessimism

• Indifference

• Self-critical

Changes in thought patterns:

• Inability to concentrate

• Indecision

• Problems with memory

• Disorganized

Preoccupation with death:

• Thoughts of death

• Suicidal ideation

• Feeling dead or detached

Those who are feeling depressed or suicidal can call 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK for help any time of day.

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