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Mental Health Resources in ND: 'All Doors Are Open'

North Dakota saw the biggest jump in suicides of any state from 2014 to 2016. (embracethewanderlust/Twenty20)
North Dakota saw the biggest jump in suicides of any state from 2014 to 2016. (embracethewanderlust/Twenty20)
June 13, 2018

FARGO, N.D. - Mental-health officials want North Dakotans to know there are ample resources available for people who experience depression.

The risk of suicide is on the country's conscience right now, with the recent death of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found suicides increased 28 percent between 1999 and 2016. In North Dakota, the number of suicides increased 57 percent between 2014 and 2016, the biggest spike of any state.

Emily Gard, an integrated health therapist at Sanford Health in Fargo, said people should use this time to talk about this issue.

"We have a choice here to make about talking about those people who have died by suicide," she said, "and using it as an opportunity to say, 'Hey, mental health does not discriminate.' And there are so many resources and things that we can do to help."

Gard said those who are depressed or experiencing suicidal thoughts should know there are many avenues through their local health provider to seek help and that all doors are open for talking about this. A mobile mental-health crisis team goes out to people in the Fargo area to offer face-to-face help, and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-TALK, is available 24 hours a day, as well as a crisis line for support by text, at 741-741.

Gard said no one should make this subject taboo. If someone is at risk from suicide, it's best to be direct with them and ask.

"A lot of times, people are very honest and open to having that conversation," she said, "but I think as awareness comes to the table, asking those hard questions - just like we would ask somebody, 'Are you having chest pains, are you feeling short of breath?' - asking, 'Are you feeling suicidal?' is a completely appropriate question."

Gard reminded folks not to be afraid to ask for help, because there are plenty of people in their community ready to offer it.

The CDC report is online at cdc.gov.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND