Tennessee loses more people to suicide every year than car and motorcycle wrecks combined, and more than prescription opioids.
Upper Cumberland Regional Director for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network Mike Anderson said, September is about breaking the stigma of asking for help with mental health. While also asking community members to step up and ask a person they think might be in crisis.
Anderson said you wouldn’t take the risk to ignore someone in cardiac arrest, and mental health should be treated the same way. Anderson said continuing to get the word out, is about those affected speaking out.
“It’s referred to often as the silent epidemic. These deaths are whispered about, people associate some kind of inherent shame with it. We have to break that, we have to get over that, we have to start looking at it for the disease that’s causing it. Just exactly the same way that heart disease and cancer are looked at,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the most affected group in the Upper Cumberland is men ages 45-64. If suicidal thoughts are affecting you, avoiding affecting someone else is the worst thing to do, Anderson said.
“If people are struggling with depression, the worst thing you can do is try and put on a brave face and keep it to yourself,” Anderson said.
Not just this month, but all year, Anderson said to ask people if they are struggling and do not fear putting ideas in their head. If you are someone struggling with suicidal thoughts, Anderson said to reach out because help is available.
“People are often reluctant to reach out for help because they’re afraid that, ‘there’s something wrong with me or this is a unique situation,’ thoughts of suicide are not uncommon,” Anderson said.
The Tennessee State Wide Crisis Hotline 855-274-7471.