Help available to combat rising suicide numbers in South Carolin - FOX Carolina 21

Help available to combat rising suicide numbers in South Carolina

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(FOX Carolina)/June 8, 2018 (FOX Carolina)/June 8, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report showing suicides are on the rise, including in South Carolina. 

Those numbers in our state are up 38 percent since 1999.  In fact, the CDC says suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the country.  But there is work being done to help bring those numbers down.

To put it in perspective locally, the Greenville County Coroner tells us suicides are double the number of homicides in the county.  And he, along with the CDC and local mental health advocates say it's hard to pinpoint one reason for the increase.  But what they want people to know is help is out there.

Kathy Eckart has been working for the past 20 years to help those who are in a suicidal crisis.

She's the Director of Crisis Intervention Services at Mental Health America of Greenville County and coordinates the 24/7 crisis hotline.  She says calls are consistently increasing each year.

What's also gone up are suicide numbers. The CDC’s new report shows it's happening around the country especially in South Carolina.

Eckart says it’s not surprising to her.  “Saddened of course, because many people across the country work to change those numbers, but bigger things need to change to affect those numbers, access to mental health care things like that.”

While Eckart tells us there's not one reason why a person commits suicide, mental health can play a part, and she believes funding cuts for the services in South Carolina, aren't helping.

“In that 2008 area there was a big cut in funding, in fact National Mental Health America did a survey and rated South Carolina 50th in giving individuals the ability to access mental health.”

But there is help out there. Eckart says their call center is tied into the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“We have crisis intervention services, 24 hours a day, two crisis lines, a teen line a texting service and a chat service.”

Alexandra Berthiaume has been there nearly a year with the AmeriCorps Vista program, helping to find better ways to recruit and train volunteers who help run the hotline.

“This is something that we as a community and nation are facing, this is not something that is an individual flaw or a character mistake, it's something that we as a community need to be addressing.”

The quickest way to talk to someone is to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. That number is 1-800-273-TALK.  They are available 24/7 all year long.

You can also call those at CRISISline in Greenville, at (864) 271- 88-88, or text "crisisline" to 839-863. 

We reached out to several upstate coroner's offices for their recent suicide numbers.  Here is what we found:

Greenville County

  • 2013 – 79
  • 2014 – 77
  • 2015 – 60
  • 2016- 81
  • 2017 – 92

Anderson County:

  • 2014- 35
  • 2015- 54
  • 2016- 44
  • 2017- 36
  • 2018-16

Pickens County:

  • 2013: 21
  • 2014: 31
  • 2015: 34
  • 2016: 32
  • 2017: 27

Oconee County:

  • 2013 – 13
  • 2014 – 15
  • 2015 – 12
  • 2016 – 17
  • 2017 – 16

Greenwood County:

  • 2014 - 14
  • 2015 - 8
  • 2016 - 8
  • 2017 - 9 

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