County tries to combat increase in suicides - WNEM TV 5


County tries to combat increase in suicides

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Suicides are on the rise and it's the victims who might surprise you. More and more, middle-aged men are taking their own lives.

Seven years ago, Shannon Campbell's brother Graham took his own life at the age of 27, leaving his family wondering why.

Graham had recently just lost a job he loved at Harmony House because the company was folding. His relationship with his girlfriend had fallen apart and he turned to drugs and alcohol to cope.

Lapeer County Health Department Medical Director, Dr. Russell Bush says Graham is part of a frightening statistic plaguing Lapeer County and the entire country. Relatively young healthy men taking their own lives.

Dr. Bush says it's time to drop the stigma surrounding suicide and begin talking about the problem. In the last five years, the suicide rate in Lapeer County among men 19 and older has more than doubled to 15 reported suicides in 2013.

Even more startling, the Lapeer County Sheriff's Department responded to 900 attempts in 2013, those not resulting in death.

So what's causing this spike in suicides among men? Dr. Bush says the main culprit is the economy. Unemployment is the #1 cause followed by divorce or troubled marriage. Men often resist mental health treatment in fear of damaging their career or causing family and friends to lose respect.

"Trying to get people to recognize that they are reaching that breaking point is the only way to take the statistics in the other direction," says Dr. Bush.  

Susan Clement is on the cutting edge, tackling the problem in Lapeer County with a new program, Mental-Health Training, a one day course that came to the United States from Australia.

"We believe people are more likely to be suffering from a mental health crisis than the likelihood that you are going to come across somebody that you are going to have to administer CPR too," says Clement. "It teaches people how to recognize someone in crisis and what they can do to keep them from ultimately taking their own life."

Something that may have helped save Graham nearly seven years ago.

If you'd like to become a mental health first responder, Lapeer County is holding a mental health first-aid course on Tuesday, February 19.

To register, call 810-667-0500.

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