According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control, life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped for the third year in a row, with an increase in suicides as one of the big contributing factors. And with the holiday season comes more pressure and stress for those who suffer with mental health issues.
For many, the holidays are a time of joy. But for some, it can be a tough time, full of reminders that their lives don’t match up to the stereotypical happy family. Devin Pinkston, a local licensed mental health clinician said, “I think we get this kind of stereotypical idea of the postcard of what you see, people gathered around a table connecting with one another.” For many people, their reality doesn’t match up to societies expectations.
“That increases that feeling of depression, that self esteem, that negative self esteem that they feel about themselves, and then might lead to thoughts about suicide or potential attempts,” said Pinkston.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
“Depression is actually very common, its more common in different types of minority groups and minority groups can be individuals who are veterans, LGBTQ community, racial ethnic minorities,” said Pinkston.
Holiday time with family and friends presents an opportunity to ask important questions. Mary Ellen Ireland, a retired hospital chaplain and spiritual director, has been involved in supporting survivors of attempted suicide and family members of those who’ve completed suicide over the last 20 years.
“Asking directly, people, if they’re thinking about killing themselves or harming themselves is an important start and then supporting them in getting the help that they need,” said Ireland.
Although it may be difficult, talking about suicide can be a life saving conversation.
“There’s a lot of stigma around seeking help through a counselor, therapist, psychiatrist, you name it. But often times people who do reach out, you see healing process beginning,” said Pinkston.
If you are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, reaching out to national resources may the best option because they can often connect you with local places that can offer you help and support. That number is 1-800-273-8255, or click here for their website.