Raising awareness about mental health needs is essential

Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Daily American Republic would like to thank all of the area partners who have spent recent weeks raising awareness about suicide prevention and mental health needs in our area.

The partners gathered recently for a candid conversation about what they have witnessed and experienced in our area.

The need to make mental wellness a priority and to remove the stigma from seeking help or speaking up is high.

We hear too many stories of unmet needs in our region, or people who were afraid to seek help until their problems had become more than they could bear.

A 2020 survey of Missouri students in grades 6-12 indicated that on average more than 29% of youth in Butler, Carter, Reynolds, Ripley, Stoddard and Wayne counties said they were often or always very sad, compared to about 25% at the state level.

The survey looked at depression and suicide-related indicators.

A fact sheet from the SEMO Behavioral Health compared those results to early years by county.

Butler County, for instance, had more than 30% of students in 2020 say they were often or always very sad, compared to around 205 in 2014, 2012 and 2010. Other counties in the area have seen similar increases.

“This rate appears to have steadily increased since 2016, constituting roughly a 50% increase in depressed youth since 2010,” according to the report. “The State of Missouri shares a similar trend, though the spike from 2010 to 2020 is not as drastic as the one in (this area).”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Missouri saw 1,125 suicide deaths in 2020. Missouri is ranked 16th for the most suicides per 100,000 population.

Suicide was one of the top nine causes of death for those aged 10-64 in the United States, and a disproportionate amount of these deaths were among people who live in rural areas, people with LGBTIQ+ status, residents of rural areas, middle-aged adults, and tribal populations.

Suicide rates have increased by more than 30%, nationally, from 2000 to 2020, according to the report.

We want to thank everyone in our region who comes together every day to offer help, whether it is in a formal setting, a church basement or over a kitchen table.

Talking, whether it is about our individual struggles with mental wellness or our region’s need to do more for those who need support, is the first step to real change.

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