Suicide rates on upward trend - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Suicide rates on upward trend

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

August 18, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The amount of people attempting or committing suicide in Dougherty County is on an upward trend over last year. So far, the numbers are pacing at five more per month than in 2007.

The reasons why there has been an increase in the number of attempts or suicides this year aren't clear. But an Albany Psychologist says the lack of mental health care facilities and the lack of insurance companies that offer adequate coverage, may lead more people to believe they have no where to turn.

In 2007, Dougherty County EMS responded to about 15 calls a month that were suicide related, either attempted or actual.  This year, they are responding to an average of 20 per month. "The option out is to ask for help because there's nothing more devastating to people that love you than a suicide.  It will destroy the people around you for all time," said Psychologist Cheryl Kaiser.

But she says quite often people feel trapped, which leads them to have suicidal tendencies. We don't know exactly why the number of attempts and suicides have increased this year, but Dr. Kaiser says one reason may be a lack of places to turn for help in the Albany area.

She said, "You have very few providers to provide that service that people need." Another reason could be the downturn of the economy. People who are financially strapped, are less likely to shell out money to pay for therapy and insurance benefits don't always include mental health.

"Of course, you have a person who's already got some significant depression or anxiety leading them to need these services, now on top of it, they're going to have to go into some sort of financial burden situation in order to be able to get the healthcare that they need," said Dr. Kaiser.

She says lack of money should never be a reason to avoid treatment for depression.  You can get assistance with payments. If you need immediate help, there's a national suicide help line.  Just call 800-273-TALK.

If you are suicidal or know someone who is, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has staff on hand in the emergency center who can handle mental health issues.  Outside of Albany, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

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