Not often will you see suicides reported by local media outlets. In the world of media, it’s an area that most steer clear of due to the sensitive nature of what the family is going through, and to avoid, at all cost, suicide contagion.
In regard to eParis Extra reporting on suicides, the company respectfully does not follow stories focused around someone who committed suicide.
Owner and operator Toni McDowra said many readers have asked about cases in which the company has reported on a death but no longer followed the story.
“People have asked me; so what happened last night?,” McDowra said. “After some research, the team finds out it was a suicide. So I report back to the reader, ‘we don’t report on suicides.’ Some will ask ‘why’, others seem to understand.”
She said it is the company’s responsibility to work with local law enforcement to ensure it gets information out quickly in case it turns out to be a public safety concern.
“If we then find out it is a suicide, we no longer report on the event,” McDowra said. “We will never report on a suicide. The situation is already painful enough for the family, and they are reeling with emotions we can only imagine. I don’t want to – in any way – glamorize suicide, nor do I want our company to exploit the situation or the family.”
With that being said, it’s crucial that we as a community do not forget that suicide is very real and happens often.
Suicide is a public health matter that has lasting effects on individuals, families, friends, and entire communities. Suicide is caused by many complex factors but in the end, the result is the same. The goal of suicide prevention is quite simple: reduce factors that increase risk, and increase factors that promote protection. The levels of influence that apply to this are the individual, relationships, communities, and society. Promoting awareness of suicide and commitment of social change are the biggest factors that can help prevent suicide.
“The City of Paris Police Department has investigated six deaths since 2016 that were determined to be suicide. In that time, there were 192 calls for service listed as attempted suicide. The calls for service can represent self-harm, threats, mental commitments, or emergency detentions,” said Chief Bob Hundley.
Former Chief Deputy Jeff Springer from the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office said there were 13 suicides investigations since January 2016.
As you can see on the map (pictured right) Lamar County has higher suicide rates than many others compared throughout the state of Texas.
On a larger scale, there are many interesting things to note from numbers representing the whole of the U.S:
- There are 121 suicides each DAY in the USA
- In 2014, Males take their own lives at nearly four times the rate of females and represent 70.8% of all suicides.
- Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall in the U.S. It is the second leading cause of death among persons aged 10-34 years, the fourth among persons aged 35-54 years, the eighth among person 55-64 years, and the seventeenth among persons 65 years and older.
- Suicide results in an estimated $51 billion in combined medical and work loss costs.
The question is WHY? Why is this quiet crisis taking so many lives around us?
More than 50 percent of people that commit suicide are known to have depression or clinical depression. One-third of people who took their own life in 2015 had alcohol in their system, and one-fifth had opiates in their system. Drugs and alcohol lower inhibitions making the decision to take your own life easier.
Mental illness and family history of suicide also increase the risk of suicide. While white males are highest at risk, suicide shows no discrimination and anyone could be at risk of making this decision in their life.
Isolation and poverty are often blamed for people not seeking help, or receiving the help they need as preventative measures, but we have to remember that times are changing. There is a connectedness in the world that has never existed to this degree before. Help is only a click or call away… as long as people know it’s available.
“Someone who contemplates suicide is in a state of intense emotional pain, and often times, physical pain. While prevention is not always possible, it is the most important thing to strive for when trying to help someone you love. You can offer them emotional support, and use discernment on getting them the help they need.” said Wendy McNeal, LCSW, Owner and Therapist at Oasis Counseling and Consulting in Paris.
While September is Suicide Prevention Month, it’s an occurrence that happens year round. The message during prevention month encourages the public to know the signs, give support and encourage others to seek help. Together, these elements drive change.
If you or someone you know is at risk, seek help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or chat online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Sources: Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Suicide.org, CDC, and Paris Police Department
Story originally written by Lea Emerson.