Last week’s incident involving a person atop the Whitley County Courthouse raises a question for many in the community — is the community doing enough in regards to mental health?
From 2011-2014, 15,797 people in Indiana attempted suicide, and from 2011-2015, 4,696 Hoosiers died by their own hands. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the state, according to a report by the Indiana State Department of Health.
Last week’s courthouse situation ended with a positive outcome, but not all similar situations do. Just two days later, a young man committed suicide in Whitley County.
In many cases, out of respect to family members and the those involved, local media does not report on suicides and attempted suicides. While we believe this practice should be continued, we also worry that the community at large may not realize how many neighbors are coping with serious mental health issues, especially given the stigmas surrounding mental health in general.
In this week’s article, Jennifer Romano summed it up well by saying that we need to “be real about kids and adults struggling in our community.”
Mental illness is often suffered alone. According to Mental Health America, one-in-four people in Indiana suffer from a mental illness in a given year. Are we as a community doing enough to help our fellow residents?
Places such as Choices & Changes in Columbia City, also featured in this week’s publication, are an excellent resource for those who need help, but not everyone is getting the help they need. According to Whitley County Coroner Randy Dellinger, about six people have committed suicide so far in 2017, and six people committed suicide in 2016 in Whitley County.
We all should ask ourselves the following questions, posed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
• What does mental health mean to our community?
• What are the challenges and factors we should consider?
• How can be best support the mental health of young people?
• What steps do we want to take in our community?
Having counseling services such as Bowen Center and Choices & Changes are helpful, but, as a whole, our community could work to provide a more positive and encouraging atmosphere for those struggling with mental health.
In many social media post comments, particularly posts about controversial subjects, you’ll find someone being negative or rude to another person — and, in many cases, the people are strangers.
Last week, the community addressed the right things to save the young woman’s life. But we must ask ourselves if, as a community, we’ve addressed everything that can bring a person to that point? Bullying or a lack of a support system can exasperate someone who is already struggling.
We encourage everyone to talk to their kids about bullying, think twice before posting something rude on social media and know the signs of someone who is suicidal.
Some of those signs include:
• Major changes to sleeping patterns
• Loss of interest in personal hygiene or appearance
• Alcohol or drug misuse
• Uncharacteristic risk-taking or recklessness
• Quitting activities that were previously important
Someone who is talking about suicide or death; putting their affairs in order, such as giving away their belongings; or writing goodbye letters are considered to be at serious risk for suicide and should get help immediately.
We believe we live in a good-hearted community and look forward to seeing all residents taking it upon themselves to help each other in regards to mental health.