My Perspective: Impact of suicides hits close to home

By Jim Palmer


About a year ago, people’s lives were dramatically changed by Covid-19. This global pandemic has made life difficult for many people. Things are starting to loosen up, and with any luck, we will continue to inch our way out of this thing in the months ahead.

For most suffering from anxiety or depression going into this pandemic, the isolation that went along with it made life very challenging. For others, it has made life unbearable.

Over the last year, I have known three people who have taken their own life. One was a young person in my community who had his whole life in front of him. Another was a friend who I have known since the mid-1980s. And the third was my sister-in-law’s father, a pastor from the Detroit Lakes area.


My sister-in-law, Katie, is an elementary teacher in Hawley, Minn. It has been a couple of months now since her dad died. She was devastated when she got the call of his suicide. And she will likely be affected by her dad’s decision the rest of her life. It will also affect the rest of their family and close friends (and also many church goers).


Depression has affected many people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stock photo

After her dad’s passing, Katie decided to write down the emotions she was feeling. She made a video with these thoughts and posted the video online. That video has been viewed by more than 6,000 people and shared across the country. I asked Katie if she would share her message with the Senior Perspective, and she agreed to do so. Her hope is that what she wrote might be the thing that makes someone considering suicide to ask for help. Katie’s article is printed on Page 10.


You may or may not have noticed, but I have made more mentions about depression in my columns and in the articles over the last year. This is because I have felt the rising stress when I talked to our readers. I could see that people needed more human interaction, someone to talk to, someone to hug. It is an often overlooked part of this pandemic.


There appears to be a light at the end of the COVID tunnel, but may people are still really struggling. As this pandemic rolls into year #2, I would encourage everyone to keep an eye on their neighbors, friends and relatives. I don’t feel comfortable giving out advice on this subject, but I’m going to rely on a professionals. If you notice changes in someone you know but don’t know what to do, clinical psychologist Adam Borland, PsyD, with the Cleveland Clinic gives some strategies that can help you provide support.


“So how can you tell if a friend is just a bit sad or has something deeper brewing? There certainly are telltale signs,” Dr. Borland said. “But since you don’t necessarily see that person every day, you may have to do more detective work.”


He recommends watching for behavioral changes or anything that could be out of character for your friend. Some depression symptoms include lack of engagement, change in communication patterns, changes in hygiene and sleeping patterns, displays of sadness or anger and withdrawal from social outlets.


If someone you care about tells you that they have had suicidal thoughts or if you are worried about them, there are many resources out there to help you in your interactions with that person.


Here are a few links to some of those resources:

• suicidepreventionlifeline.org

• sprc.org

• veteranscrisisline.net


If you have had suicidal thoughts, please talk to someone you trust. There is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The phone number is 1-800-273-8255. This lifeline provides free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.


A newer option for those considering suicide is a free text connection to a professional. Just text HOME to 741741 for a free connection with a trained crisis counselor.


To view Katie’s video, look for the video and article on our stories page.


Distribution


We are seeing an increase in the demand for our paper in nearly all parts of our distribution area. Over the last year, we were forced to greatly modify our delivery lists to accommodate the changing restrictions and closures. Since last March we delivered more papers to grocery stores, hardware stores and liquor stores, and fewer papers or no papers to restaurants, clinics and senior centers. Just about the same number of people found the paper... they just may have had to look in different locations to find them.


Now that many of the restrictions have lifted or have been relaxed, our paper distribution is getting closer to the way it was before COVID struck. There are still challenges that we are dealing with on delivery, but it is getting closer to normal.


As things improve, some locations are starting to run out of papers much faster than they did just a few months ago. If you notice a location in which the newspaper is gone in a few days or in the first week of the month, please let us know. We are trying to monitor all the locations, but with more than 3,200 locations, it can be a big challenge. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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