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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Opinion: Suicide Prevention Is Everyone’s Concern

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John C. Willingham Opinion Piece

James Donaldson notes: I am turning more and more of my time and efforts towards mental health issues, especially pertaining to our young people and student-athletes.

This is becoming everyone’s concern… and it should be!

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

Article Submitted by: John C. Willingham

Many of us might not want to talk about it, but the truth is we’ve all likely been impacted by suicide and we all can play a role in tackling one of our community’s most pressing health issues.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and rates have been on the rise in nearly every state. In South Carolina, suicide rates rose by 38.3 percent from 1999-2016. According to newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is rarely caused by a single factor. Instead, a range of factors, including mental health conditions, relationships, substance use, physical health, and job, financial, and legal problems may be to blame — factors that impact every segment of our community.

As a leading provider of mental health and substance use disorder treatment in the Upstate, The Carolina Center for Behavioral Health is committed to doing its part to provide suicide-safe care inside our facility and to help build connections with the community outside of our facility’s doors.

Because we take this responsibility seriously, we have cultivated many partnerships and work closely with groups such as school counselors, first responders, law enforcement officers, faith leaders, mental health professionals, and the medical community. For example, we are proud of the relationships we have forged by supporting the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Greenville and Mental Health America (MHA) Greenville. Their combined efforts in education, prevention and support are making a lasting impact in our community.

Most importantly, we need your help as well. Public opinion polls reveal that while the general public recognizes suicide as a serious issue, many people are reluctant to reach out to someone who may be struggling. But, even the smallest of actions can help a teen or an adult in crisis. When a person is feeling helpless, hopeless, alone, and often in their darkest hour, it can be a daunting road to walk without a hand to hold or an ear to listen.

Whether you’re a neighbor or a teacher, a family member or a friend, an employee or a supervisor, a parishioner or a faith leader, you can be there for someone who may be in distress. Just as you offer support to someone with a physical illness, a person struggling with a mental illness and thoughts of suicide needs the same care. Actively listening in a nonjudgmental way, offering a meal, calling to check in, and helping to develop a safety plan are concrete ways to help someone work toward recovery.

Here are some other helpful ways to be there:

  • Recognize warning signs such as overwhelming hopelessness, talking about not wanting to live, or increased use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask if someone is considering suicide and communicate openly about the subject.
  • Share the Lifeline number (800-273-TALK) – 24/7, which offers free and confidential support. Military veterans can press ‘1’ for specialized care.
  • Promote resources and services that are available, like those at The Carolina Center for Behavioral Health, MHA of Greenville, and NAMI Greenville.

Each and every one of us can strive to be a nonjudgmental shoulder to lean on by being there for one another in some of life’s most challenging moments. Only by working together – involving everyone in our community – can we truly address and ultimately eradicate this preventable public health issue.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The writer is CEO/managing director of the Carolina Center for Behavioral Health.

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