The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Opinion

September 25, 2013

Editorial: Help prevent suicides

Charlie Skiles was a teenager who was friendly, upbeat and had a positive energy, his father recently recalled. But at 15, Charlie had also suffered from depression for two years. His anti-depressants, however, weren’t enough to stop him from committing suicide on Aug. 23.

The sadness associated with Charlie’s passing is almost unbearable, not only for his family but even strangers who hear the account.

His father, however, is trying to get the word out about the warning signs of suicide. For one, his son began cutting himself about two weeks before the suicide. The father says he will forever regret not taking action. Similarly, Charlie’s Facebook account indicated something was wrong yet his friends didn’t understand the seriousness of his postings.

The impact of suicide goes beyond the sufferer. It leaves an emotional scar on the survivors. That’s why it is so important for friends, relatives and co-workers to watch for signs of depression.

Perhaps a reminder of those signs can never be repeated enough.

Listen carefully if a friend or relative talks about wanting to die, purchases a gun, says there’s no reason to live or feels like a burden to others. Keep an eye out for increased use of alcohol or drugs. Watch for a person who becomes anxious or reckless, sleeps too little or too much or becomes withdrawn or isolated.

Those with depression typically have a sudden shift in attitude to happiness, which may indicate they have come to terms with a decision to commit suicide. Watch for someone who gives away their possessions or makes a round of goodbye visits.

Oftentimes, we hear of a suicide attempt and become more fascinated with the sensational aspect — for example, a man who in August, drove into an Interstate 69 guardrail and put a hole in his head with a power drill in a suicide attempt. Or we read of an Ohio girl who committed suicide after she was bullied by other students.

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