Helping loved ones cope with mental health

With the recent death of actor and comedian Robin Williams, talk of suicide, which is often shunned, has entered the national spotlight.

There is an unwritten rule in news stations and police agencies to not glorify the fatal act out of respect for the grieving families.  In turn, you won’t hear many of their stories.

The majority of suicides in Michigan are a mental health issue.  They occur across all age, economic, social, and ethnic demographics.  However, white males 65 or older are more likely to die as result of suicide than any other group.

Health professionals at the Great Lakes Recovery Center say the best thing you can do as a loved one is to be aware of the warning signs.

“It can be as subtle as a change in mood, loss of interest in something that was really important to the individual or something as overt as telling someone ‘I don’t want to live anymore’ or ‘I don’t know a way out’,” GLRC foundation coordinator Andrew Chosa said.

In the last five years, the Negaunee Post of the Michigan State Police responded to 186 calls, 24 attempts, and 25 suicides.  Over that same time span, Marquette City Police have seen 140 attempts and eight deaths as a result of suicide.

The 15 counties that make up the U.P. have a 40% higher rate of suicide than the state average.

Although those figures may seem grim, there is hope.  Preventative measures have shown great success and professionals urge everyone to get involved.

“Eighty percent of the time if someone has attempted suicide and they are stopped or intervened upon by someone that is close to them, they don’t try again,” Chosa said.  “That’s why it’s very important for people to intervene, take it seriously. The worst that could happen is an awkward conversation but if you are right, you may have saved that persons life.”

Suicide is currently the eleventh-leading cause of death in the United States.  Approximately one person attempts suicide every 38 seconds.

The Peter White Public Library has suicide prevention and recovery meetings every third Tuesday at 8 p.m.

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255, text 35-NEEDS, or visit