Number of New Year suicides concerns Dougherty Co. coroner

Number of New Year suicides concerns Dougherty Co. coroner
Coroner Michael Fowler said he's worked three cases in the past three days where two residents took their lives with a gun and one is still fighting for her life. (Source: WALB)
Coroner Michael Fowler said he's worked three cases in the past three days where two residents took their lives with a gun and one is still fighting for her life. (Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
Dougherty County Coroner, Michael Fowler (Source: WALB)
Dougherty County Coroner, Michael Fowler (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - For the first time ever, the Dougherty County Coroner's office kicked off the 2018 working back-to-back suicide deaths.

Coroner Michael Fowler said he's worked three cases in the past three days where two residents took their lives with a gun and one is still fighting for her life.

"A suicide right after another one, two, three like that is unheard of," explained Fowler.

Normally, the coroner said he may work a suicide case once every couple of months but three cases in three straight days is far from the norm.

June, July and August are typically the highest time of suicides - not the start of a New Year.

"One month, then maybe go three or four months then you have another suicide but bam, bam, bam," said Fowler.

One man and woman committed suicide using a gun.

Another woman attempted suicide, and she's still fighting for her life.

All ranged from ages 30 to 60.

Often times after interviewing relatives, Fowler said the victims usually gave warning signs.

"They'll call you to take care of the children, they'll call you and tell you this is where my accounts are at," Fowler added.

Those casual statements that some may miss as a sign of suicidal thoughts.

Last year, there were eight suicides in Dougherty County and more than 1300 in the state.

Fowler teamed up with Aspire Behavioral Health on a suicide prevention program.

"You need to talk to someone, but a lot of times people are so close-minded that they don't want people to know they're business, this is the only way out, but there is help out there," Fowler added.

Coroner Michael Fowler said he plans to partner with several religious leaders this year to host a suicide forum for relatives who have lost loved ones.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, research has found that about 90-percent of individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness.

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the state.

So what are the signs?

  • Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like "I wish I wasn't here" but can become more overt and dangerous
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social withdrawal from family and friends
  • Dramatic mood swings

If you or someone you know needs help dealing with a mental health crisis, the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (1-800-715-4225) offers free and confidential crisis intervention 24/7 anywhere in the state.

Aspire Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Services is also available 24/7.

The Crisis Navigation Unit located at 601 West 11th Avenue.

There's also a confidential Survivors of Suicide Support Group in Albany.

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