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Mental Illness and Links to New Hampshire's Suicide Crisis

Mental health experts say using the model of "question, persuade and refer" are three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide. (JerzyGorecki/Pixabay)
Mental health experts say using the model of "question, persuade and refer" are three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide. (JerzyGorecki/Pixabay)

January 27, 2020

CONCORD, N.H. -- Recognizing the ties between suicide and mental health may be key to reducing New Hampshire's high suicide rate, according to mental health experts.

New Hampshire has seen a significant increase in suicide rates for teens and people transitioning to early adulthood.

Rose Muise leads In Our Own Voice workshops for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) New Hampshire. She says suicide attempts are sometimes linked to mental illness, and responsive strategies can make a difference.

Her own struggles with depression made Muise want to help others. She says if you're worried about a friend or family member, address suicide directly rather than tiptoeing around it.

"The biggest things when I was feeling that low was a lot of guilt and shame around the way that I was feeling," she relates. "So, being really open and talking about it and starting those conversations, I think you kind of make them a little bit more likely to actually seek out help."

Gov. Chris Sununu signed legislation in 2019 to increase and promote evidence-based suicide prevention training in the public schools. Statistics show suicide constitutes a larger proportion of all traumatic deaths in New Hampshire than in the U.S. as a whole.

After her own experience with suicidal feelings, Muise says she created a support system of family and friends, and developed what she calls a toolbox to help get her life back on track.

She wrote in a journal, used a weighted sleeping blanket, kept stress balls within reach and scheduled quality time for herself.

She says other people may need a support animal or medication to improve their mental health.

"What works for me might not work for someone else, so kind-of just starting to explore what does work for you," she states. "And if something doesn't work, try something new, because there's always going to be another option."

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is another 24-hour resource, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NH