NEGAUNEE — Even though winter may be a time of joy and cheer for some, for others it brings mental health challenges like depression and seasonal affective disorder. This idea could have brought on a popular myth that many people are trying to put to an end. ABC 10’s Sarah Mac sat down with a health educator to get the facts and brings us the story.

It is a widespread idea and myth that suicide rates increase during the winter months, especially around the holidays, but officials from the Marquette County Health Department say that myth is simply not true.

Health Educator for the Marquette County Health Department Sarah Derwin says, “Actual suicides do not increase over the holiday season, and we know that from the numbers from the CDC and from other people that have done research on that.”

In fact, Derwin says that there is no real spike in suicide throughout the year. She says there is a slight increase during the spring and part of the summer, but not enough to be statistically significant.

“Our take home message with that is that suicide really doesn’t know a certain season, a certain time of year. It is a problem that occurs everyday, year round,” Derwin added, “and our hope is to really reduce the stigma and that we wouldn’t just talk about it around the holidays. That it would be something that we know is an issue year round.”

The health department is trying to increase knowledge about suicide and risks of suicide through different trainings and workshops throughout the community. Like Gatekeeper and Assist training that teach community members tips on helping those who are at risk for suicide. The biggest tip is listening and telling the person you are there to support and help them.

Derwin says, “We say to try to listen to the person. If somebody is in a suicidal crisis they might feel very isolated and very alone, and for somebody to reach out to ask them, ‘How are you doing? Are you ok?’ That can really make a big difference, and the listening piece is huge, and try not to rush to judgment. We try to tell people just not to rush to judgment, give them your full attention, let them know that you’re there for them, and have resources handy for them.”

The health department recently received a grant to help increase their efforts at their children and teen clinics in the county.

If you or someone you know needs it, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

There is also someone available to talk from Dial Help Community Support and Outreach Center at 1-906-482-HELP (4357)

There is also someone available from Dial Help Community Support and Outreach Center by text at 1-906-35-NEEDS (63337)

For more information about suicide prevention click here.

For more information about the Marquette County Health Department click here.