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WILDS: Suicide is complex, no one cause or solution
Jennifer Wilds
Jennifer Wilds

Some good things in our community have come out of this time of COVID. 

People are reaching out more intentionally to neighbors and loved ones, Zoom and social media conversations among strangers and friends are on the rise and are helping to reduce the stigma around mental health needs such as anxieties, feelings of depression and lack of social connectedness. We are finding new and creative ways to connect to those nearby as well as those who are far away.  

Those who are spending time together at home may be sooner able to recognize signs and symptoms and are taking part in trainings and webinars to increase their knowledge to be able to support the people that they care about in these uncertain times.  ER visits for psychiatric reasons and calls to crisis lines are on the rise…which may be a good thing for people to get the necessary support before symptoms escalate.  

September is designated annually as Suicide Prevention Month but, in our area, it is a year round mission to create Communities of HOPE where zero lives are lost to suicide.  We work closely with Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities as well as local partners such as GNR Health Department, local Family Connection Partnerships, Drug Free Community Coalitions, mental health agencies, local school districts, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Category 10 Entertainment and local nonprofit partners to create opportunities to spread hope and health through initiatives that strengthen individual and community wellness. 

The Take 5 to Save Lives campaign  is an easy way to support someone that is important to you and can get you started on your way to knowing how to help.

1. Learn the signs – Take a few minutes to learn the warning signs of suicide.

2. Know how to help – Know what to say and do if someone you know is struggling

3. Practice self-care –  Make mental wellness a priority in your life.

4. Reach out – Help is available and recovery is possible.

5. Spread the word – Pledge to tell 5 people about Take 5. 

Suicide is incredibly complex and does not have one cause or solution but it is known that thoughts of hopelessness may lead to suicidal thoughts in some people — hopelessness is one of the greatest risk factors and also one of the areas where we all can quickly intervene when offering support.  Suicide crosses all financial, racial, gender and age categories so we worry about our older adults, Veterans, middle aged men, young people, construction workers, attorneys and first responders, among others.  Please take a few moments to learn a bit more about how to save a life today.   

Some risk factors may include:

• Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders

• Easy access to lethal means

• Alcohol and other substance use disorders

• Hopelessness

• History of trauma or abuse

• Physical illnesses

• Previous suicide attempt(s)

• Family history of suicide

• Loss (job, financial, relationship, etc.)

• Lack of social support and sense of isolation

• Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

• Lack of access to appropriate behavioral health care

Some warning signs that indicate a need to take immediate action may include:

• Talking about wanting to die or to killing oneself

• Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun

• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live, feeling unworthy

• Talking about being a burden to others

• Giving away possessions / pets

The good news, is that there are also multiple protective factors that support people and may be readily available.

• Effective behavioral health care

• Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions

• Social and emotional skill development (problem solving and coping skills, ability to adapt to change)

• Self-esteem and a sense of purpose or meaning in life

• Parental and personal resiliency

Some local resources include:

The Georgia Crisis and Access Line is available 24/7/365 for help for individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health and substances.  Trained behavioral health professionals can provide resources as well as on site intervention if someone is threatening to hurt themselves, increases alcohol or drug use, engages in reckless behaviors or feels hopeless.  They can be reached at 800-715-4225 or through the MyGCAL App for text and chat options.

School-based mental health services (APEX) are available in Newton County Schools ( 

GUIDE Inc. is a community organizing initiative focusing primarily on reducing underage alcohol tobacco, drug use and suicide.

Free QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) trainings can be scheduled with your group at your convenience. (Contact or visit to learn more.)

NAMI Georgia is an organization of families, friends and individuals whose lives have been affected by mental illness. Together, they advocate for better lives for individuals who have a mental illness, and offers support, education and advocacy.  Learn more at

Education, resources and advocacy are available through the Newton / Rockdale Suicide Prevention Coalition website ( and social media pages.

View Point Health is our local community behavioral health center able to serve those who are uninsured or underinsured through a comprehensive team approach and continuum of care.  The services provided contribute to a reduction in homelessness, reduction in crime and subsequent incarcerations, higher graduation rates, lower dropout rates, decreased ER visits and decreased inpatient admissions.  Visit  or call 678.209.2411 to learn more.

The most critical component is YOU!  You can help save a life by listening, asking questions if you think someone is at risk, knowing the resources that are available, reducing access to lethal means (prescriptions, firearms, knives), getting connected to treatment for yourself or helping find treatment for loved ones and getting people connected to enjoyable community activities and events.  Help us create communities of HOPE where zero lives are lost to suicide!

Jennifer Wilds works with View Point Health and is involved with multiple professional affiliations including multiple Local Interagency Planning Teams, Chairperson of the Newton/Rockdale Suicide Prevention Coalition and local Drug Free Community Coalitions.  She is a certified trainer for QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer for suicide prevention) and Youth Mental Health First Aid and is an advocate for youth and families on personal, county and state levels.