‘It’s okay to not be okay:’ September is Suicide Prevention month


SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Between the ongoing recovery of Hurricane Laura, COVID-19, and now Hurricane Ida, people may be feeling grief, fear, anxiety, and even depression. September is suicide prevention month, and the Louisiana Department of Health says “It’s OK to not be OK.

“Sometimes we are very reluctant to ask people ‘Are you struggling about thoughts of suicide? ‘Are you struggling with thoughts of hurting yourself?’ It’s okay to ask that question,” says Michelle Yetman-Katz, a clinical psychologist and clinical assistant professor at LSU Health Shreveport.

In 2019, 12 million American adults thought about suicide and 3.5 million planned a suicide attempt. Another 1.4 million attempted suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“If you look at who the risk groups are … doctors … nurses … these are people who we all know. These are our friends, family, so we all need to be aware that people around us could be struggling,” says Yetman-Katz.

And that includes veterans, too.

“We know that there’s a lot of things been going on recently with the events in Afghanistan and now the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and veterans are obviously going to impacted in a number of ways. They may experience sadness, anger, feel rejected, betrayed,” says Robin Hogue, the chief mental health services, from Overton Brooks VA Medical Center.

Yetman-Katz says although there are “numerous of reasons veterans are such an at-risk group,” but one huge factor is “they usually have ready access to lethal needs,” which can be very dangerous.

But we also can’t forget about those who’s been impacted by Hurricane Ida. The storm caused many South Louisianans to be displaced.

“Currently we have a large number of shelters opening in North Louisiana, our homeless staff are reaching out to those shelters every day to identify veterans and ensure that their needs are met,” says Hogue.

The global pandemic of COVID-19 could possibly be another stressor for those already battling with depression as well, says Yetman-Katz.

“If people are really struggling again with addiction that can take to a very dark place,” she says, adding people are simply trying to seek a solution to their pain.

“A lot of times people don’t necessarily want to die, but what they want is the pain to end.”

If you or anyone is struggling with the thought of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

You can text “talk” to 741-741. or call 1-800-273-8255.

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