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|Talking and Support May Reduce Suicide posted on 09/05/2023|
By Ty Walker
The Mountain Times
Suicide stole the love of my life. Overcome by deep depression and
debilitating chronic back pain, my wife and best friend took her life
Feb. 13, 2018.
So suicide is a difficult subject for me to talk about without bringing
up all kinds of emotions. It happened more than five and a half years
ago. We were separated and living apart at the time but still best
I hadn’t heard from her for a couple of days, and she did not respond to
my phone messages or texts. When I went to her house, her lights were
on but there was no answer at the door. She had locked herself in the
bedroom. I pounded on the door screaming her name. There was dead
silence. Then I saw the note on a shelf outside the bedroom door. It
read: “I’m so sorry. I have to go. I’ll always love you. I want you to
know. I’m so sorry. Goodbye my love. There’s no pain here, just peace
and love. You were my heart.”
I called 911 and minutes seemed like hours before Portland Police
arrived. They broke down the door and called the county coroner. They
found her lifeless body, dead by self-asphyxiation with CO2. I went into
shock. I could not believe it. This had to be a nightmare. But it was
not. Seeing her rolled out in a gurney zipped up in a body bag was all
There were plenty of warning signs leading up to that day that she was
thinking about suicide. But I just chalked them up to her being
intoxicated and overdramatic. I didn’t take them seriously. She often
would ask me, “You’ll be OK if I’m gone won’t you? No one will miss me.”
I told her I would not be OK without her, that I would miss her. I loved
It wasn’t the first time she attempted suicide. I know she tried at
least one other time before that fatal day. Looking back, I feel guilty,
like I should have done something more to prevent my wife’s death.
Those are common feelings among family member survivors of suicide
victims, I have learned, and we recognize suicide prevention month this
According to 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, when people die by
suicide, their surviving family and friends may experience prolonged
grief, shock, anger, guilt, symptoms of depression or anxiety, and even
thoughts of suicide themselves.
Overall, there was a record high 49,449 suicide deaths in 2021,
according to Center For Disease Control and Prevention. That’s nearly 15
deaths for every 100,000 people. Of the total number of deaths, 39,255
were male and 10,194 were female. The suicide rate spiked in 2021,
reversing two years of decline. And with the continued increase in 2022,
rates surpassed the previous record from 2018.
“Nine in ten Americans believe America is facing a mental health crisis.
The new suicide death data reported by CDC illustrates why. One life
lost to suicide is one too many. Yet, too many people still believe
asking for help is a sign of weakness,” said HHS Secretary Xavier
The most recent statistics available in Oregon were recorded in 2021,
when there were 889 suicide deaths.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the 988 Suicide
& Crisis Lifeline suggest 5 steps to help safeguard people from the
risk of suicide and support them when in crisis:
Ask: Asking and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than
increase suicidal ideation.
Help keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to lethal means
is an important part of suicide prevention.
Be there: Increasing someone’s connectedness to others and limiting
their isolation has shown to be a protective factor against suicide.
Help them connect: Individuals that called the 988 Lifeline were
significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less
overwhelmed and more hopeful by the end of calls.
Follow up: After you’ve connected a person experiencing thoughts of
suicide with the immediate support systems that they need, following up
with them to see how they’re doing can help increase their feelings of
connectedness and support. There’s evidence that even a simple form of
reaching out can potentially reduce that person’s risk for suicide.
If you’re depressed and having suicidal thoughts, phone 988. Someone
will be there to hear your troubles and talk. For help online after a
traumatic event, you can go to tipnw.org. A volunteer will come out to
the site and offer support.