Suicide rate same as last year in Jefferson County

Posted 1/22/20

Suicide rates have remained relatively steady in Jefferson County over the past four years, but organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Health are hoping community involvement will help lower the numbers.

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Suicide rate same as last year in Jefferson County

Posted

Suicide rates have remained relatively steady in Jefferson County over the past four years, but organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Health are hoping community involvement will help lower the numbers.

In 2019, there were 14 local deaths attributed to suicide, according to the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. This is the same number as in 2018. In 2017, there were 11.

The release of the 2019 statistics follow several incidents that shook communities across the county, including when an Army soldier whose family lives in Port Townsend went missing for 48 hours in what police say was a fake suicide, followed by the death of a 26-year-old Port Ludlow man, who was found after having committed suicide in Coyle days after Christmas.

The most suicide deaths occur in July, according to the statistics released by the coroner’s office, but it is typical for there to be an increase in domestic violence issues and suicide attempts during the holidays and during winter, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Joe Nole.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common occurrence in regions with cold and dark winter climates.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons—it begins and ends at about the same times every year. Symptoms of depression start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.

But there are a variety of resources available in Jefferson County for those who need it.

The Jefferson County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) will host a series of support groups and workshops in 2020 for those suffering from mental illness, their friends and families.

NAMI holds free drop-in support group meetings on the first and third Wednesday of each month from 7 to 9 p.m. The meetings are for individuals living with mental illness, family, friends and caretakers.

At 7 p.m., they begin with conversation, coffee, tea and snacks, and a chance to reference the NAMI library. Then, at 7:15 p.m., the support part of the meeting begins. At the first meeting of the month, this includes everyone. At the second meeting of the month, the group splits into two: one support group for those with mental illness, and another for family and caretakers.

The meetings are held at Discovery Behavioral Healthcare (formerly Jefferson Mental Health Services), 884 N. Park Avenue in Port Townsend.

Beyond that, NAMI is hosting two workshops in coming months. The first is a three-hour workshop on mental health basics and crisis communication skills. This will take place at the Recovery Café at the corner of Kearney and Blaine Streets on March 20.

The second is a suicide prevention and intervention class set for April 17.

“All our workshops are free, including the mini workshops,” said Valerie Phimister, current president of Jefferson County’s NAMI. “Everyone is welcome.”

NAMI is also hosting a Family-To-Family 10-week course from Jan. 25 to March 28. The class is for family caregivers of individuals living with mental illness.

To learn more about NAMI’s programs and to sign up, call 360-390-4547 or write to namijeffco@yahoo.com.

Beyond NAMI’s classes, the Benji Project offers help for teenagers to learn more about self-care and mental wellness.

The Benji Project hosts an eight-week class that is held two or three times a year for high school students at Port Townsend High School, though they are expanding to other parts of Jefferson County and the North Olympic Peninsula.

To learn more about the Benji Project, visit thebenjiproject.org.

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