Suicide attempts and deaths on the rise in Eau Claire County
Eau Claire (WQOW) - President Barack Obama signed a suicide prevention bill aimed at helping veterans on Thursday, bringing awareness to a local concern.
Terri Dahl, 31, knows the sorrow of losing a friend to suicide, and she soon faced the silent sadness herself. "You feel like you're not wanted," she said. "You feel like you're the only one that feels that way. Even though I know the signs, I didn't know the signs quick enough. Cleaning the house one day, if I swallowed this, cleaner, would it make life better?"
In 2014, the Eau Claire Police Department said there were 55 suicide attempts, 29 threats and three deaths in the city; A growing number that has health officials concerned.
Paula Pater, a health educator with Hospital Sisters Health System at Sacred Heart Hospital, said men are at a greater risk of committing or attempting suicide. She said the risk for committing suicide is 74 percent men and 26 percent women.
“We have somewhere between 10 to 15 suicides a year, but that's 10 to 15 people that have died, and we really could make a difference with," Lieske Giese, the director of the Eau Claire City-County Health Department said.
Giese said there are major factors that contribute to suicide. "Certainly substance use and abuse is connected. Disruptive family relationships are connected," he said. "A history of depression or mental health illness is also at a higher likelihood of suicide attempts. We know it's a population that is hurting and has needs, and there's some prevention work that we can be doing around that."
Terri said she has learned a valuable lesson that she wants others to remember. "I felt that way many times, but then, I thought to myself, ‘I would really be letting my family down. I don't want any of them to be hurt'. People do care about you even though you think they don't," she said.
Health officials want individuals to be aware that most people speak about committing suicide before hurting themselves. If there is someone who needs help, the Wellness Shack on South Barstow Street in Eau Claire provides free counseling. The National Prevention hot line is another great resource: 1-800-273-8255.
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