The stigma associated with mental health is evident in urban populations, but it’s even stronger in rural areas.
The CDC reports from 1999 to 2016 the suicide rate across the country – not just rurally – increased by over 25%, but the rate of which suicides were happening in rural communities was at a much more rapid pace.
Fast forward to 2019, and you’ll find that trend continuing.
So, what can we do to change this? Miquela Smith, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Specialist in Health says there are several things we can do for our communities, neighbors and friends that will hopefully curb this movement.
“It’s something that people have not wanted to talk about. It’s, historically, been kind of seen as an individual problem or a family problem if somebody is struggling with a mental illness you know, you’re supposed to handle it within the family but really it’s now more recognized as a public health concern,” Smith said. “People are starting to realize that talking about it is actually helpful.”
Along with talking about it, Smith says noticing signs and symptoms is something we can all do to help. “If you notice that someone is acting a lot differently than they normally do, and this can be maybe that they’re seeming depressed or maybe they’re a lot happier, any kind of sudden change in mood or normal temperament that might be a red flag.” She went on to say that, “you could notice those things at a grocery store, you could notice those things for your neighbor, a coworker, your children. So being aware and knowing what to look for will help you intervene if something is wrong.”
Texas A&M AgriLife is partnering with Extension Agents across Texas to educate them on mental health, suicide prevention, as well as these signs and symptoms. If you know someone who is suffering or in need of guidance your local Extension Agent can point you in the right direction. But, if you would rather not discuss this topic in person, there are several phone and text hotlines that you can call for help:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 273-8255
Amarillo Crisis Hotline: (806) 359-6699
Crisis Text Line: Text “GO” to 741741