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It's the season of suicide, but there is help

Hometown News: New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater - Oak Hill - 12/15/2017

While the holiday season is time for many to celebrate, it also can be the saddest time for those who suffer from depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

In Volusia County, suicide rates are higher than the state average and twice the rate of the national target reduction rate, according to a new study released by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County.

"The CDC defines mental health as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community," according to the study. "Mental health issues, such as feelings of hopelessness, isolation and barriers to mental health treatment. are leading risk factors for suicide."

The study examined a four-year period from 2012 to 2016, and found the Southeast quadrant of Volusia County, specifically zip code 32132, to have the highest suicide rate, with 24 deaths per 100,000 residents during the study.

Although deaths from suicide in the county have decreased since the previous study, the rate has steadily remained higher than the rest of the state.

"In 2012, approximately 121 Volusia County residents committed suicide and 418 county residents were hospitalized as a result of self-inflicted injuries," the study states "The CDC describes suicide as death caused by self-directed behavior with any intent to die as a result of that behavior. Self-inflicted injuries are defined as acts to self harm with or without the intent to commit suicide."

While depression can seem more prevalent during the holiday season and winter months, there are signs to watch for in loved ones, as 75 percent of suicides do exhibit warning signs, said Kevin Caruso, Florida Suicide Prevention volunteer.

"Appearing depressed or sad most of the time; talking or writing about death or suicide; withdrawing from family and friends; feeling hopeless or helpless, angry or enraged; feeling trapped; experiencing dramatic mood changes; abusing drugs or alcohol; acting impulsively; losing interest in most activities; performing poorly at work or in school; and a change in eating or sleeping habits are all potential warning signs," Mr. Caruso said. "It should be noted some suicides, around 28 percent, have no prior warning signs before it happens."

Suicides in Voluisa County during the study were higher in white males between the ages of 35-50, according to the study.

"If you or someone you know is exhibiting any changes or warning signs, the important thing to to is get help immediately. Don't wait or worry that you're overreacting," Mr. Caruso said. "There are hotlines and resources available 24 hours a day. Someone is here for you."

To reach a crisis counselor, call (800) 539-4228.

 
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