Health network offers support during Suicide Awareness Month

Published 12:00 pm Friday, September 23, 2022

CASSOPOLIS — September is Suicide Awareness Month and a local organization continues to offer the community support.

Based in Cassopolis, Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network is a Cass County entity that provides services and treatments to individuals dealing with substance abuse, mental illness and developmental disabilities. 

The causes of suicide are complex and determined by multiple combinations of factors, such as mental illness, substance abuse, painful losses, exposure to violence, and social isolation. 

“I think people contemplate suicide or attempt it when they have lost all hope,” said Woodlands CEO Tim Smith. “Hope is a very powerful thing in your life, my life and in people’s lives who don’t have mental illness. So if someone has a mental illness and they’ve lost all hope, that’s kind of like this perfect storm for suicidal ideation or attempts.”

Smith said that he believes the ongoing pandemic has made mental health matters worse.

“I think the pandemic and especially the isolation from the pandemic, maybe hasn’t driven up rates of suicide, but it certainly has driven up rates of other mental health issues that people might have,” he said. “If you were a little bit depressed before the pandemic, you’re probably a lot after, so it exasperated a lot of things, too.”

Smith and his Woodlands team continue to help people navigate the struggles of life to find a sustainable sense of hope, meaning, and purpose.

“One of the things I always say is that you might not know it, but somebody cares,” he said. “I think that’s where that’s where the disconnect is. ‘I’ve lost all hope, nobody cares’ and the message that I want to send to everyone I see is somebody cares and I want everyone that I’ve given that message to to do the same with everyone. They see to get the word out, somebody cares about you. And I think that that’s kind of the maybe ray of hope that might not cure someone, but it’ll stop them from inflicting harm on themselves that day.”

Woodlands features a crisis response team available 24 hours per day, seven days per week at (269) 445-2451 or (800) 323-0335.

“If anyone is having any thoughts of self-harm or hopelessness, call it,” Smith said. “We’re going to make sure that you are safe and make sure that you know that we care about you, we do. Even if we don’t know you, we care about you. It’s part of being a mental health clinician or being in his business. There’s no one in this business who gets into it who isn’t a people lover.”

SUICIDE PREVENTION

The causes of suicide are complex and determined by multiple combinations of factors, such as mental illness, substance abuse, painful losses, exposure to violence, and social isolation. Warning signs that may mean someone is at risk include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

If you believe someone may be thinking about suicide:

  • Call 911, if danger for self-harm seems imminent.
  • Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves. (This will not put the idea into their head or make it more likely that they will attempt suicide.)
  • Listen without judging and show you care.
  • Stay with the person (or make sure the person is in a private, secure place with another caring person) until you can get further help.
  • Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.