Experts concerned suicides could increase -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Experts concerned suicides could increase

Mac Wilcox Mac Wilcox

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  An Albany man killed himself while driving his truck as police tried to stop him late Tuesday night.

Police responded to a 911 call on Cobblestone Court around 11:30. As officers arrived, 32-year-old Priness Peak drove off.

Moments later, he fatally shot himself and his truck crashed into a parked Lexus.

South Georgia mental health therapists and police say they are alarmed by the number of suicides, especially public suicides, in recent weeks.

Psychologists say depression is a real and growing problem that can have deadly consequences.

Experts say the weeks of cold weather, added on top of the months of financial troubles and unemployment, could be leading to more mental health problems. Police say they're seeing more substance abuse and domestic violence calls, and now suicides.

Experts like Clinical social counselor Mac Wilcox say the long spell of cold weather is having a definite effect on South Georgia.

Wilcox said "You have something called seasonal depressive disorder. Bad weather, people can't get out. They are confined to their house, and so they are going to be in more conflicts.

Psychologist Dr. Cheryl Kaiser says the bad weather combined with the bad economy and high unemployment, and the suicides could become more common.

 Kaiser said "I am always worried that when the economy is in an unstable type of position, that people will respond in very permanent ways."

Police acknowledge that the number of domestic dispute calls has increased greatly, and officers are being warned about the danger to themselves and the public.

Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek said "When you've got tough economic times, you've got bad weather, you've got a number of external factors, yes it's something we try to make our officers very, very aware of."

There are warning signs that people are having suicidal thoughts.

Kaiser said "If someone starts to withdraw or they are expressing concerns of hopelessness or helplessness, those are some of the most important signs of suicidality if someone is depressed."

Wilcox says don't ignore warning signs, act immediately.

Wilcox said "Indeed if they think that, or see those signs they need to ask that person directly. And immediately reach out. If they can't help them, they can call 9-1-1 to pick them up."

Experts say depression is a real life or death issue, and that people need to react quickly to prevent more suicides..

Priness Peak shooting himself Tuesday night was the first official suicide of the new year in Dougherty County, but first responders are still searching for 77 year old Fannie Corley, a Leesburg woman believed to have jumped into Lake Chehaw Christmas Eve.

Last year six people committed suicide in Dougherty County.

Experts worry that number could be higher this year.

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