News Article Details

Suicide numbers keep increasing

The Woodward News - 9/16/2017

Sept. 16--Woodward Police Officers were called to a scene in the 500 block of Oklahoma late Wednesday evening, according to officials.

According to Woodward Police Department Det. Lt. Darren Navratil the call was in response to what appears to be a suicide.

"There is nothing that appears suspicious to us currently but, as it always is, the matter is under investigation at this time," Navratil said.

From 2004 to 2010 suicide was the most common manner of violent death in Oklahoma, accounting for 3,836 deaths during that time frame. That is an average of 548 deaths by suicide per year in the state. Between 2010 and 2015, in Woodward County alone there were 20 individuals who died as a result of suicide.

In Mooreland alone, Police Chief Bobby Kehn said he has responded to two suicides just since January of 2017. In Woodward, police responded to a total of approximately three calls in which someone died as a result of purposeful self harm. With that figure, if the trend continues, it will more than double the rates of suicide for this area in just two years compared to the rate from 2010 to 2015.

According to Director of Northwest Behavioral Health Trudy Hoffman in Woodward, there does indeed appear to be an increase in the number of people who are completing suicide. And that is why over the past several years, she has invested in a robust training program for clinicians who serve the mental health center in Woodward.

In 2015, Hoffman offered a class called QPR Training (Question, Persuade, Refer) for the public to help them learn the signs of someone who might be considering suicide as an option and how to learn to ask them that question.

She also has provided a ramped up continued education and training for her clinicians through experts, such as Julie Geddes with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

But when asked for the "why" in the apparent increase in the rate of suicide here or across the state, Hoffman was life most professionals, there is really not just one answer to the question.

"It is really hard to put a nail on exactly why, but for some people, it feels like they simply have not other options," Hoffman said.

According to an April 2016 story featured in the New York Times, Katherine Hempstead, senior adviser for health care at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has identified a link between suicides in middle age -- the largest increasing demographic for suicides by age -- and increasing distress about jobs and personal finance.

Hoffman seems to agree, but indicates it is hard to determine reasons many times. But what is clear from the research and from those treating the increasing numbers of people who consider suicide is that the best way to help is to simply be there for the person and assist them in finding help.

She said it is this inability for a person to see out of the deep emotional abyss they are in, that is key for others to understand that the best way to help them isn't to judge them or tell them all the great reasons they have to live.

"They are at such a level of hopelessness, you and I can't help them by telling them things like, 'Oh, but you are so pretty or you have so much in your life,'" Hoffman said. You and I can help by letting them know that, "I will be there with you and we will get through this.' The best thing is to say, 'I'm so glad you are here today. I hope you allow me to help you in this journey in what ever way I can."


(c)2017 The Woodward News (Woodward, Okla.)

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