Learning the signs of people at risk during National Suicide Prevention Week

Saturday is World Suicide Prevention Day
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 6:55 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - While Suicide Prevention Week is wrapping up, the conversation regarding mental health is just beginning and needs to be ongoing.

“I’d have to say there’s still a stigma out there,” said Heidi Pritzl, a licensed clinical social worker for Aspirus Koller Behavior Health.

Every day, approximately 125 Americans die by suicide, according to the CDC’s 2020 USA General Statistics. In 2020, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death in the United States.

”Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increase in the amount of mental health crises,” said Dr. Laura Houser, a pediatrician for UW Health Kids.

Nationally, suicide claimed the lives of nearly 45,900 people in 2020, including 850 Wisconsinites.

“The increase in anxiety and depression and other mental health concerns also meant that there was an increase in the number of suicide attempts and completed suicides,” said Dr. Houser.

Hiedi Pritzl of Aspirus Koller Behavior Health said there are some warning signs people may be able to notice when a person needs help.

“You see increased isolation or they used to be happy and now all of the sudden they’re angry and irritable. When those sudden shifts start to happen, you may need to help that person get help,” said Pritzl.

Pritzl said there are various factors when it comes to suicide or mental health symptoms. Things like gender, age, and personal situations can all play a part in a person’s mental health.

“So we consider a rural area, which has a higher rate of suicide and mental illness. Or looking at the northern part of the country,” said Pritzl.

The 988 hotline was just recently rolled out as the new National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The new, shorter number makes it easier to remember.

“Indeed we did see the volume go up significantly above what the former 10-digit number used to receive,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

Both Aspirus Health and UW Health suggest anyone experiencing a mental health crisis to visit their primary physician. From there, they can give you the right mental health resources.