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Suicide rates are at their lowest in December and highest in spring and fall, Solvista Health reports.

“There is a longtime myth circulating that suicides increase during the holidays. Research actually shows the opposite,” Gwen Ferguson, Solvista Health public information coordinator, said.

“The myth that suicide rates are higher during the holidays can actually be a detriment to suicide prevention,” Ferguson said.

“The lower rate of suicide during the holiday season is attributed to the increased support that time with family and friends offers someone who might be struggling,” said Erica Elliot, a child and family clinician with Solvista Health.

“It’s comforting that rates decrease during the holidays. However, suicide is a major public health issue in our country that we don’t want to ignore,” Elliott said. “Awareness and education can help us help others when they are going through a difficult time.”

Ferguson said warning signs for suicide include talking about killing themselves or not having a reason to live, feeling hopeless or trapped, feeling as if they are a burden to others, increased use of drugs or alcohol, researching or collecting things they would need to end their life, withdrawal from activities and isolation from friends and family, changes in sleep or appetite, visiting or calling people to say goodbye or giving away prized possessions, fatigue, changes in mood including depression, anxiety, or irritability and loss of interest in activities.

“Asking someone directly about thoughts of suicide will not put the idea into their head,” Elliott said. “In fact, if a person is thinking about suicide, asking them directly will likely lead to a sense of relief in having a trustworthy, nonjudgmental person in whom to confide.”

Solvista Health offers 24/7 crisis services and can be reached at 539-6502.

In addition, Solvista, in partnership with the Extraordinary Teens Council and Family & Youth Initiatives, offers the Teen Wellness Voucher, which offers two free one-hour visits with a counselor for Chaffee County residents from ages 15-19.

The vouchers are available at high schools, public libraries, Family & Youth Initiatives offices and Boys & Girls Clubs in both Salida and Buena Vista, as well as Solvista Health, First Street Family Health, Chaffee County Public Health and Fun Street Family Arcade in Salida.

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