SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – There is a lot happening right now that can cause anxiety or depression, including the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, conversations or developments having to do with justice and race, or perhaps the politics and happenings of the current election season.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken has spoken out about its significance.
According to sdsuicideprevention.org, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. And in 2017, South Dakota had the sixth-highest suicide rate in the country.
“Even in Sioux Falls during the past few months, my office has heard of suicides and we’ve had to deal with suicides in our own community, specifically related to challenges of COVID and the coronavirus. And that’s hard to hear because it highlights the fact that right now there’s a lot of mental anguish that people are experiencing in the city,” Sioux Falls mayor Paul TenHaken said.
The month is a time dedicated to opening people up to conversations about mental health and suicide.
“It’s so important to talk about suicide prevention and just mental health in general. I think people forget that we all have mental health, so to have those conversations and to normalize those conversations, just like we do with any physical health,” Mallory Kloucek with NAMI South Dakota said.
And with everything that’s happened around the world in the last six months, it’s even more important to have those conversations.
“Unfortunately for some people, they don’t see a way out. For some they feel that taking their own life is the only option and to me that just is really important that we speak out and say, listen, there are options. It will get better. Contact someone before it gets to the point that it’s too late,” TenHaken said.
“I can connect you with a resource as well. I’m not trying to be a middle person in this, but sometimes if there’s a face to it, say, hey this guy wants to help, this office wants to help. Whatever I can do to provide resources to people, I want to be able to do that,” TenHaken said.
And the National Alliance on Mental Illness can help you start conversations about mental health and suicide.
“Sometimes we need to do that check-in and it’s important that we do that check-in with each other. How is your mental health today,” Kloucek said.