Beginning this summer, the Maxwell School’s Community Geography Program will conduct a comprehensive assessment of community needs and assets among immigrants and refugees in the Syracuse area. That study is being funded by a gift of more than $110,000 from…
Tragic Spotlight on Suicides Could Help Save Others, Destigmatize Mental Health
According to a new report released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates have gone up in nearly every state between 1999 and 2016. The growing crisis was brought even more into the spotlight with the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain this week.
Dessa Bergen-Cico is an associate professor in the Department of Public Health and coordinator of the Addiction Studies program at Syracuse University’s Falk College. Bergen-Cico says it’s important to talk about suicide with compassion and without judgment.
“There can often be a contagious impact from suicide. It is important to note that this contagion is linked to deep emotional suffering that people are already struggling with.
“It is important to talk about mental health, depression and suicide and to do so with compassion and without judgment. Depression and suicidality can impact any community and every family regardless of race, religion or economic status. Asking someone if they are thinking of harming themselves or are suicidal is important to open the door to understanding what someone may be struggling with. Asking someone if they may be contemplating suicide does not cause them to become suicidal.
“Depression can be a chronic lifelong struggle and suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide) can reoccur throughout a person’s life. Although we may first become aware of the depths of someone’s emotional suffering during a mental health crisis or suicide attempt – the immediate crisis may be over but the suffering and mental health problems are still there. Recovery and survival require good ongoing counseling that addresses the person’s ways of thinking, ability to tolerate distressing feelings, and the cultivation of cognitive skills that help people to be aware of their thoughts and thought patterns so that they can take healthy action.
“It is not surprising that research has shown that the majority of people who commit suicide do not have a formal mental health diagnosis because it is very difficult to find and access good effective mental health services. Even though I work in this field and I often struggle to get people into effective care that will help people beyond the immediacy of a mental health crisis. “Mental health is poorly covered by most forms of insurance and many therapists do not take insurance.
“Substance use certainly complicates mental health and increases risks for depression and suicidality. Heavy substance use can often border on suicidal behavior, and be an indication of suicidal tendencies.
“Most states and counties have a county or community mental health advocacy center which can be helpful to identifying skilled clinical service providers for a broad range of mental health issues. They can help with navigating the system, finding and getting treatment and support.”
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