Suicide attempts spike after 2-month dormancy
After receiving three calls for possible suicidal attempts from January to mid-March, and none from mid-March until mid-May, county dispatchers have received three calls for possible suicide attempts in just 10 days.
One possible attempt was reported May 15 after a woman drank hazardous household chemicals. Two additional incidents followed in quick succession, on May 22 and May 25. In each case a woman overdosed.
The timing coincides with imposition and gradual lifting of COVID-19 stay-home orders, but it’s difficult to draw connections between suicide attempts and people being at home more, EMS director Travis Parmley said.
“As a whole, I think that’s on the radar of mental health officials,” he said. “As to local ones being attributed to that, I certainly can’t connect those dots.”
Finding larger trends for attempted suicide cases also can be difficult because numbers lag a few years behind, Prairie View clinician Brent Ide said.
“It’s difficult to track month-by-month because the numbers are being gathered but they’re not necessarily released to the public,” he said.
Ide sees his role as not just preventing suicide but also helping people recover and stabilize after a suicide attempt.
Being able to discuss suicide without feeling judged is important, Ide said.
“They feel more comfortable being able to talk about it and maybe reach out for help,” he said. “It’s important in that sense to be discussing it, and I think talking about it is different from glorifying it.”
Some people believe talking about suicide might plant ideas in somebody’s head, but Ide said that is unlikely.
“They’re going to ask those questions,” he said. “If they’re having thoughts of suicide, most of the time they’re going to answer truthfully because they’re probably waiting for that question to be asked.”