Local News

Crisis Calls Tend To Increase Over Holiday Season

Posted December 23, 2004 4:56 a.m. EST

— Suicide is not something most people are comfortable talking about, but discussing it is the only way to spot and reach out to people who need help. Since 2001 in Raleigh, about 15 percent of suicides and attempted suicides occurred between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. But, mental health experts said everyone can be part of the solution.

Carol Helmlinger has put more than 100 faces on suicide. She memorializes suicide victims from across the state on quilts, hoping to create awareness.

"Putting a face on suicide makes it more real," she said.

Fourteen years ago this week, Helmlinger buried her 19-year-old son Richie after he took his own life.

"I think the loneliness, break-up with his girlfriend, I think all these things contributed," she said.

In the Triangle for 34 years, Hope Line has been helping people on the brink of suicide realize they have a reason to live. The agency gets more calls around the holidays.

"If they're feeling depressed, they feel more depressed. If they're feeling isolated, they feel more isolated," said Hope Line counselor Chris Wise.

"If the individual isn't willing to reach out for help, your helping them reach out for help can be absolutely life-saving," said Peter Morris, of Wake County Human Services.

Dr. Peter Morris said most people who are truly suicidal need medical attention. Seeing the signs and getting them help is everyone's responsibility.

"The key is to recognize those signs of depression, anxiety and despair and seek help before they lead to a desperate act," Morris said.

"I think we need to reach out as a community. We need to pay attention to the quietness," Hemlinger said.

Health officials stress the importance of listening to others. They said when you notice someone is in trouble, try to get them some help.