Increase in Suicide Attempts

Posted at 7:49 PM, May 08, 2013

ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. – Concerns over a growing number of suicide attempts in Allegan County has officials speaking out to raise awareness.

According to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, four 911 calls came in over the course of three hours on Tuesday night. All of the people who called are OK, but Capt. Frank Baker said this number is alarming.

“It’s a huge problem in our community, and I assume in many communities,” Baker said. “And it’s something that isn’t typically talked about.”

He said Allegan County created a suicide prevention coalition a few years ago when they started noticing a spike in suicides.

FOX 17 looked into those numbers and found that in 2011 there were 169 suicides, combined with suicide attempts. In 2012, those numbers held steady at 154.  As for this year, it seems they’re increasing, as 68 reports have came in since January.

Marianne Huff, executive director of Allegan County Community Mental Health told us why she thinks the area poses such a problem.

“I think part of the problem in Allegan is that we’re a huge county, but people feel very socially isolated,” she said.

She also said there’s a stigma about people who have had an admission of any kind of psychiatric disability.

“Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia [and]anxiety disorders are no different than diabetes or a heart condition,” Huff said.

In fact, she said of the top 10 disabilities, four or five of them are mental health conditions, with depression being number one in the world.

Even still, she said it’s one of the hardest things for people to talk about.

“A lot of people feel that calling an agency like “mental health” means they’re deficient in some way, shape or form,” Huff said. “That’s absolutely, positively not true.”

ACCMH is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Huff said they take people on a walk-in basis, where they can come in and talk face to face with a certified clinician. For those who don’t want to talk in person, there is also a hotline people can call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 800-795-6617.

Huff said she wants people to remember that many people go through bouts of depression and  that they’re not alone.

“You can get through it. There’s nothing in life that hopeless where you need to think about taking our own life,” Huff said.

Allegan County Community Mental Health: 269-673-3384.