"Suicide is actually highest in the Spring and Fall," says Terresa Humphries-Wadsworth, Director of Statewide Suicide Prevention with the Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming. "The holidays can be a time when things come up, and that can be stressful for anyone, but it doesn't tend to lead to suicide."
One theory for this popular misunderstanding could be movies and plot lines like the one in It's a Wonderful Life, a classic holiday movie from 1946 in which the main character is contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve. The natural stress of holiday travel, spending time with family when there may be long-standing tensions, tight budgets during a time when gift giving is expected - these things can all add to an overwhelming feeling of dismay. It's possible that Hollywood's play on these emotions leading to suicide may have contributed to many of us thinking that was true.
The Centers for Disease Control statistics say, however, that the least number of suicides take place during November and December. This myth is solidly busted.
Any time of the year, many of us may know someone who struggles with depression and it can be difficult to know how to help. The best thing to do is show that you care and follow it with reminders of hope. "Express your concern directly," Humphries-Wadsworth said. "Being able to talk to someone lightens the load, particularly when people are under a lot of stress. Genuinely reach out and just spend time with them."
Support is everywhere. Rally a network of friends around the person and find out who is most influential to them; positively encourage the person to seek professional help. There are also mental health centers in every county in Wyoming and they can offer advice. You may try to find out if the person has started, or stopped, a new medication recently that could be affecting their mood and encourage them to talk to their physician about the change.
"Mental healthcare is part of our healthcare. There is no magic line between the two," Humphries-Wadsworth said.
Using the 80/20 rule is the best way to start; express 20% concern and offer 80% hope. If you need more specific advice call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and you'll be routed to your nearest mental health center.