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7/20/2014 6:00:00 AM
Miner Special Coverage- Suicide: The scary little secret
Ronald French
Ronald French
Mohave County’s suicide rate among highest in AZ
KINGMAN - The Arizona Department of Health Services reports Mohave County in 2012 had 31 suicides. This made Mohave the second highest rate per capita for death by suicide, just behind Yavapai County, which reported 32.1 suicides per 100,000 residents for the same year.

The state of Arizona reported 1,070 suicides in 2012 with 638 of those done with firearms.

The highest rate for suicides was adults between the ages of 45-64 with 416, followed by 410 suicides for ages 20-44. One hundred and eighty-seven suicides were committed by the elderly (65 and older), with teenagers (15-19 years of age) totaling 48 suicides. Eight deaths by suicide were committed by those 14 and younger.

Suicide remains a serious problem from coast to coast. The statistics don't lie and Kingman, like any other town in America, deals with suicide on a regular basis. The following information can help people understand the seriousness of the problem in Kingman and elsewhere.

Suicide Awareness Voice of Education reports the following:

• Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year;

• Many who attempt suicide never seek professional care;

• More than half of all suicides occur in adult men, ages 25-65;

• Suicide rates in the United States are highest in the spring months;

• More than half of all suicides are completed with a firearm;

• Suicide is the third leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15-24;

• Suicide rates among the elderly are highest for those who are divorced or widowed;

• Eighty percent of people seeking treatment for depression do so successfully;

• Fifteen percent of those clinically depressed die by suicide;

• There are an estimated eight to 25 attempted suicides to one completion;

• Substance abuse is a risk factor for suicide;

• The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression.

The Center for Disease Control reports there are four male suicides for every female suicide.

Medications and therapy can be effective suicide prevention.

By Scott Schulte

Scott Schulte
Miner Reporter

KINGMAN - To the outside world, "Mark" had it all. In his mid-40s, successful in his line of work, married with a family, Mark lived with a constant smile and happy demeanor to the outside world.

Behind the perfectly manicured yard, though, Mark had a dark and painful secret. The handsome, successful man was battling mental illness. Depression and anxiety had surfaced in his life and he didn't know what to do. By doing nothing, Mark slid deeper and deeper into his illness.

"I was miserable and I couldn't understand why," Mark said. "We didn't have any problems many people experience like financial or relationship problems or any real issues with our children. But I had this blackness I couldn't get rid of.

"It was like having a bucket stuck on my foot that I couldn't shake."

Ronald D. French, M.A., LISAC, Adult Services clinical director at Mohave Mental Health is not surprised by Mark's story. "Everyone has risk factors," he said. "Being an adult male is a risk factor."

As Mark talked about those dark days, he touched on several risk factors he had not even been aware of. "I was very close to my parents," he said. "They passed away within a few months of each other and for me it went beyond missing them. They were a couple of my best friends and aside from my wife, the people I always bounced ideas off of. We talked on the phone all of the time. I lost that interaction and it was causing me pain. Then there was just that battle to keep up the image I had created."

Mark's wife "Jenna" was the only person aware of the dark world he lived in each day of his life. She taught school and, like Mark, never spoke of the problem.

"The darkness just kept getting worse and worse and I didn't want to burden anyone," Mark said. "I even stopped sharing things with Jenna. I had a lot of time at work saved for vacation and sick time, so I used it all in bulk."

"Isolation is another high risk factor," French said.

"That was probably the worst decision I made because when I was working it kept my mind occupied to some degree," Mark continued. "I was around people and I had a certain amount of feeling successful at the end of the day. Then I was just sitting at home alone all day."

Soon, the simplest things like taking a shower, getting out of bed and doing yard work, something he once enjoyed, became excruciating. Mark even stopped going to his doctor's appointments and taking the necessary steps to keep his blood pressure and diabetes in control.

"I still don't know exactly how to explain this part," Mark said. "After about three weeks of being home alone and hiding in my bedroom at night, I couldn't stand the mental and physical pain depression had brought into my life."

Mark won't share how he attempted suicide in April of 2013. He does explain that it was the fast thinking of Jenna that saved his life and her strong-willed personality that helped him in his journey back to sanity.

"I am blessed to have a wife who didn't give up on me," Mark said. "I'm doing better now, but like any illness I have to take my medicine, continue in counseling and I no longer hide. Mental illness is part of my life and I'm not ashamed of it."

The Mohave Mental Health Clinic is a resource for people like Mark or anyone needing help. Theirs is an open door policy.

"If someone has the need for help, they can come in and ask and they will receive help," French said. "They may have to wait for a while that day, but we won't turn people away."

The clinic works with a variety of financial approaches from state assistance to a sliding scale.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014
Article comment by: Everyday Question

I ask myself everyday why do I stay here and live in a body that's useless to me.

Been doing it for over 20 years now. You'd think by now I would have ran out of reasons to keep asking the question.

If I do choose to end the game. It would let down my Family. I wont do that.

Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Article comment by: Celeste Irons

Depressive disorders are neither abnormalities nor the result of ordinary people becoming cornered. They are debilitating medical illnesses. The exact cause of these disorders is still unclear. There can be a genetic or biological component and it is believed environment and sometimes trauma also play roles in the disease. Psychotherapy and appropriate medication together can greatly relieve symptoms. Health professionals with specialized mental health training - psychiatrists, clinical or Psy D. psychologists, and Master level social workers can provide appropriate treatment. It can take trying several medications with a psychiatrist or other doctor with specialized training before finding one, or a combination, that works well. Readers who are experiencing depression or think a family member or friend is depressed would do well to visit the National Institute of Mental Health website for more information including a list of symptoms.

Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014
Article comment by: Jack A Lope

Abnormalities ??????? or just plain ordinary people who become cornered.

Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014
Article comment by: Another Statistic

My brother committed suicide last month. He suffered from PTSD (Army), depression & paranoia. We all felt helpless in helping him. He would not communicate to us his pain. I loved him dearly, but I am angry with him as well for taking his life. He left behind a 2 year old little girl who will never experience his kind & gentle soul. Out of the 12 statistics listed in this article, my brother had 7 of them! Depression is such a black hole. I've suffered with it for years my self. The choice to be happy is possible. The stigma of mental illness can be as debilitating as a physical deformity. It's like everyone can see it & are judging you for it. My brother was very proud & could not cope with his demons any longer. He is not in pain anymore and that is the only comfort I find in his death. RIP BJF 1976-2014

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: Nick Schmidt

Try to rent the movie "Lina Braake"
on DVD or video. She has all rea-
sons to be depressed, but she is
cheered up for a revenge scheme
against the bank that took her home.
It works and she finds new friends.

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: Emotions Anonymous -- 12 Step Program & a Good Therapist

Suicide is the ultimate act of desperation. It is the final giving up. Life is over! No more goals, no more hopes, no more dreams. Maybe we feel that is what we want. Many of us have contemplated suicide many more probably will. What has held us back? For me it was the knowledge of what it would do to my family. My Father & an Aunt both committed suicide, & I remembered what those experiences had done to me. No matter how hopeless my life was, and it was pretty bad, I could not leave my loved ones with those same feelings. As long as there is life, there is hope ~ and old cliche, but still very true. Life can, and will, get better. Turn it over to your Higher Power & wait one more day.

So no matter who you are: Man, Woman, or Child, ask for help, it's OK because there is help out there.

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: julie hernandez

thank you for being so brave and sharing your story, I think it will help people understand that at some point we can all fall into a deep depression, and its ok to seek help and speak about it, but what you have done here by sharing this has gone beyond that and may help so many people. God Bless You and Your wonderful Wife

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: R .

Thank you for this article. I've been wondering where to turn but depression and whatever else is going on makes it easier to turn inward and close off from the world rather than do something that should otherwise be simple like opening a phone book to find psychiatric help. I too have been keeping busy to occupy my mind but this busyness is temporary and soon I'll need to confront two recent losses of my own that have left me alone and I dread every day, the thought of fully succumbing to grief. Multiple daily prayers asking for death and thoughts of working up the guts to make it happen by my own hand have filled my mind for a long while. Hope they can help me...

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

Someday hopefully, there will be genetic testing available to people before they have kids or even get married, to detect such abnormalities.

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