Suicide awareness: Let’s talk about it


Two unthinkable tragedies struck Macon County families this past weekend with reports of a murder-suicide and a suicide coming within hours of each other on Sunday.

Suicide is one of society’s leading silent killers. Silent because most don’t make the news, silent because there is still stigma attached to suicide. We hear about the ones that make news – the celebrities and other public figures – but the vast majority go unreported and remain hidden, tragedies no one wants to talk about. We as a society have come a long way in our willingness to talk about suicide and mental health issues, but we’re still not as open as we can be.

When people hear others talk about their own mental health issues or suicidal thoughts, it reduces stigma and let’s them know they’re not alone. And you’re not alone.

The increased isolation many have experienced during the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped, but the suicide rate has been rising steadily for decades, through good times and bad.

Suicide was the 10th-leading cause of death overall in the United States in 2018, claiming the lives of more than 48,000 people. In the 20-year period from 1999 to 2018, the suicide rate increased 35 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

So let’s look after one another. Pay attention to behavioral changes among your loved ones. And don’t be shy about asking. Clinical depression, mental illness and drug addiction are some of the most common contributors to suicide deaths, but personal issues such as relationship or financial problems can also lead to suicides.

There is always help available, whether it’s turning to a loved one or calling a suicide hotline.

They are our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. People who too often suffer in silence. Let’s help break that silence. 

Please, if you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts or is experiencing severe emotion distress, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Crisis workers are available 24 hours a day. Calls are free and confidential.