The majority of people who spoke to the Roundup for this series said they felt isolated after losing someone to suicide — with nowhere to turn to talk.
Many said they feared revealing that they too feel suicidal at times, struggling to cope with a series of unanswered questions and emotions.
“People are afraid they’ll be sent away if they voice what they’re feeling,” said Amelia Newton-Ingram, who co-facilitates the SOS Suicide Bereavement Support Group with Chris Burns. “So they drink or use something else to dull the pain. Then they get a DUI and end up in jail in a much worse situation.”
In reality, crisis professionals make an assessment for each individual and provide a range of services, she said.
Still, people often fear losing control of their lives if they seek help. Paradoxically, some hold the secret of suicidal ideation as their last resort. It is the one thing they have control over, she said.
Those that have attempted suicide and survived often say they are grateful. Some say they didn’t really want to die so much as they didn’t know how to live. Perhaps they were in chronic pain, were dealing with undiagnosed or untreated mental illness, substance abuse or the loss of a loved one.
Many, like Suzy who told her story in this series, go on to live a happy, fulfilling life after finding the right medical and social support.
The Arizona Department of Health Services reports that residents living in rural communities are three times more likely to die from suicide than residents in urban settings. Gila County has the third highest suicide rate in the state.
A number of organizations offer help. Community Bridges offers the SafeTALK program that introduces people to the skills they need to recognize signs that a person may be considering suicide. The program also discusses how to talk to someone about suicide and where to get help.
They also offer support for those struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse.
Not all people who contemplate suicide need psychiatric care, experts say.
When Ingram worked in crisis management she helped a homeless man who said he wanted to die. He had nowhere to sleep, no food and no money.
“What he really needed was food and shelter,” she said.
Call the Northern Arizona Crisis Line 877-756-4090 TTY/TDD: 711 or visit their website www.crisisnetwork.org. In a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
The Crisis Response Network offers a local 24/7 mobile crisis team available to anyone experiencing a mental health crisis. The team works cooperatively with Community Bridges, Southwest Behavioral Health Services, first responders, the hospital and other local health providers, offering assistance on a case-by-case basis.
Community Bridges and Southwest Behavioral Health Services offer a range of programs, support and treatment options for ongoing medical and behavioral health support.
The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) also offers local education programs and peer support groups for those with mental health challenges that may include suicidal ideation. Visit https://namipayson.org for more information or call the NAMI Payson helpline 800-273-8255.
A local SOS Suicide Bereavement Support Group meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month at Expedition Church, 301 S. Colcord.
For more resources on suicide prevention, behavioral health, and education, view this series on suicide online at www.paysonroundup.com.