The American Association of Suicidology says more than 30,000 Americans take their own lives each year, and the group also says more than four and a half million Americans are survivors of suicide attempts.
But an outpatient clinical supervisor at Great Lakes Recovery Centers in Marquette estimates that fewer than 10% of their clients mention having any thoughts of suicide.
“It’s not as prevalent as you would assume, being that our business is to help people with substance abuse addictions and with mental health issues,” Bob Mellin said. “But it does come up here and there.”
National Suicide Prevention Week events in the U.P. this year have included ‘Out of the Darkness’ awareness walks in Ishpeming and Iron Mountain.
A stigma about that darkness can often prevent people from seeking help, but experts say mental health treatment doesn’t mean weakness. It’s a sign of a desire for improved quality of life.
“We do hear people say that ‘I’m not going to do mental health services; I don’t want to be categorized with those people’,” Mellin said.
Psychologist Tonja Acker-Richards said that, after beginning therapy, many of her patients have expressed sentiments like ” ‘I should have called you sooner; I’ve been feeling depressed for quite a long time, but now it’s gotten very severe’, and they also feel that they can’t be helped, which is definitely a myth.”
Emergency mental health services in Marquette County are done through the Marquette General and Bell Hospital emergency rooms. Mellin says anyone with thoughts of suicide can access services through them.
“People who are concerned about individuals in their lives can also call mental health professionals for advice on how to encourage the depressed person to come and get help,” Acker-Richards said.
Dial Help, a 24-hour crisis intervention center in Houghton, is also a phone call or a text away.
They can be reached for live chat through their website, by text at (906) 35-NEEDS or through their toll-free U.P. crisis hotline at (800) 562-7622.