DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Patrice Bright went through something no parent should ever have to fathom. On April 18, 2017, she said goodbye to her daughter Anna for the last time when the 14-year-old decided to end her own life.
“We instantly thought she had been murdered because we couldn’t imagine she would’ve done that herself,” Bright said. “That’s not something a mother ever wants to hear and then we discovered a little bit later that she had actually done it herself.”
Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In Alabama, it is the leading cause of death to injury, second to motor vehicle crashes.
Nicole Nullimier is a recovering drug addict who knows all too well what it’s like to suffer from suicidal thoughts.
“This year, I attempted to take my own life several times with IV meth use and God kept me,” Nullimier said. “He showed me a way out and he showed me how to embrace the trauma that I endured through my addiction.”
Dr. Handal, a psychiatrist with Dothan Behavioral Medicine, says they see on average nearly 200 patients a day.
If you suspect someone may be struggling with depression, Dr. Handal identifies some of the key signs and symptoms of someone who may be having suicidal thoughts.
“Helplessness, hopelessness, isolation, loneliness those are really predictors of suicide. So if people are living under those circumstances, don’t have family members or friends, notice a difference in their demeanor, behavior, interests, or don’t want to go out anymore they’re isolating themselves socially. That’s a very important clue,” Dr. Handal said.
Other red flags that could potentially put people at a higher risk is substance or alcohol abuse, financial stress, bullying, genetics, or a traumatic event such as sexual, physical or emotional abuse.
If you do struggle with depression, you are not alone. There are plenty of mental health resources available in the Wiregrass.
However, Dr. Handal says one of the biggest problems is overcoming the stigma related to mental health issues and to continue to educate people. That way, they don’t feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about admitting they might need to seek help.
“If there are people that are suffering, that they would know right now that you matter and that your life is precious, that you are loved and you have a purpose that only you can fulfill,” Bright said.