Suicide rates increasing among women

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Suicide has been a major topic of discussion nationally lately following the high-profile deaths of chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade. It hit closer to home recently with the death of Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s wife, Bridgette.

Bridgette Marshall committed suicide Sunday. Her visitation is Thursday from 5-8 p.m. at the McRae Funeral Home in Boaz. The news draws more attention to the issue of suicide, and experts say it’s a growing problem among women.

Abby Litovsky is the crisis and suicide line program coordinator at the Crisis Center in Birmingham. She says women attempt suicide twice as often as men. Men die by suicide more often because they typically choose more lethal methods. But the suicide rate among women is rising. Between 2000 and 2016, Litovsky says the rate rose about 50-percent among women and about 21-percent among men. 

But the number of calls coming in to places like the Crisis Center also is rising. Litovsky says June already has been their busiest month of 2018, and it could end up being the busiest they’ve experienced over the last couple years. She attributes that to the recent high-profile suicides that have made national news.

“It hits people close to home,” she said. “Even not knowing the people individually or personally, it makes people realize, ‘You know, I’m struggling, too. I need to talk about this so I don’t get to that place that they got to.'”

Though the numbers are different between men and women, the factors that contribute to suicide are similar. Litovsky says common factors are relationship problems, financial and housing issues and mental health issues. Many people considering suicide also say they feel like they’re a burden on others. Whatever the concern may be, the Crisis Center says they can help.

“There’s hope out there,” Litovsky said. “I think when you get to a place where you’re considering suicide, you’re getting to a place where you’re losing all that hope that things can get better. So by calling and having someone listen to you and be there for you and be able to provide that support 24/7, we really are able to let people know there is that support out there when you might not feel like there is.”

And Litovsky says the warning signs are similar across the board, as well. If a loved one is showing signs of isolation or substance abuse, there may be a problem. Reckless behavior also can be a warning sign, along with a feeling of hopelessness. If you see anything unusual from a loved one, it’s wise to address it.

“Don’t be afraid to ask them what’s going on and ask them directly if they’re suicidal,” Litovsky said. “It’s not going to put the idea in the person’s head and can let them know that you’re worried about them and that want to be there for them.”

If you or a loved one is struggling with anything, you can reach the Crisis Center at 205-323-7777.

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