FLORENCE, S.C. — Angela Scott says suicide has become the second-leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 24.
Scott is a mental health counselor at Pee Dee Mental Health and is a part of the Zero Suicide Initiative, which seeks to prevent death by suicide. Scott is known in Florence for her passion and knowledge on the topic.
Suicide is right behind car crashes and other injuries causing death in the 10-24-year age group.
“For the month of September,” Scott said, “we highlight the suicide rates and give ways to prevent individuals from committing suicide. We also assist families who have lost family members to suicide get access to the necessary tools to begin healing.”
Scott said she believes the rise in suicide rates has increased among young people because of social media and the effects of being isolated due to COVID-19.
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“Social media has played a large role in the increase we are seeing,” Scott said. “Social media has allowed us to have a front-row seat in the minds of people who have committed suicide and a lot of people are not able to handle that.”
Scott said society has made suicide a thing of the norm.
“People are seeing celebrities kill themselves and when people feel there is no way out,” she said, “they mimic what others have done before them to escape from something they are struggling to cope with.”
Scott said there have been popular deaths by suicide that have played out on social media in the past year. She added that people have even gone to the extent of recording their suicide or leaving behind clues of their suicide on social media before they kill themselves.
“A lot of celebrities and beauty pageant stars have killed themselves in the past year,” Scott said. “It was a thing of the pressure becoming too much and them not seeing a way out which is the basis of suicide — wanting to escape.”
The knowledge of suicide and what it looks like and how it is done has become a serious issue, Scott said. It is dangerous because of the assumption of what it can relieve you from.
COVID-19 is another contributing factor because of the damaging effects of isolation on human beings. Scott said people are not meant to be isolated and those dealing with suicidal ideation especially don’t need to be alone.
“We as humans are not made to be alone,” Scott said. “We were made to be amongst people and to congregate. People say facetime and text is enough, but nothing is greater than human interaction.”
People during COVID-19 lost family members and jobs, and were isolated. Scott said that was a lot on the minds of people and a lot of people cracked under the pressure.
“A lot of people felt like their worlds were turned upside down,” Scott said. “COVID-19 was a major factor in people taking their lives and not feeling like they were able to keep going.”
Scott said the taboo surrounding suicide needed to be gone and to combat the old stigmas, people must be informed. Scott said if anyone in your family comes to you about suicidal thoughts, you should get them help.
Suicidal ideation is when people are thinking about killing themselves or is walking themselves through how they would kill themselves or feeling as if the world would be better off without them.
“When you have that idea over and over about wanting to kill yourself,” Scott said, “that is suicidal ideation. When you want to take your life and no longer want to be here.”
Scott said the positive thing about COVID-19 is that it highlighted the resources available for those who were struggling mentally and needed help. Recently, South Carolina joined the 988 hotline, which is the suicide and crisis lifeline. If someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts in South Carolina, the person can call or text the number and speak with someone over the phone.
“You can call or text that number and someone will reach back out to you,” Scott said. “They will comfort you and get you the help you need.”
Scott said a lot of people are afraid of going to the hospital, but she said going to the hospital is often the best thing to get the help that is needed. In addition to the national hotline, Scott said, Pee Dee Mental Health has facilities all over the county and if you or someone you love is in need of help Pee Dee Mental Health is a place for you to go locally. There are facilities in Florence, Hartsville, Marion, and Lake City.
There are also private practices that will assist those who need help. Scott said reaching out is the best thing you can do. Even on Facebook, there is an option for help. If someone is in need and types in suicide on Facebook there is a link that takes you to a place to get help. There is another national number, 741-741, that you are able to call or text for help. There is a statewide crisis hotline and the number is 1-833-364-2274.
Scott said to pay attention to your family and loved ones and if someone is increasing their intake of alcohol, using drugs, talking about suicide, engaging in risky behavior, increase in anxiety, and not sleeping or sleeping more to ask them the right questions and get them help. Scott emphasized that you don’t have to have a mental illness to deal with suicidal thoughts. She said you can be someone who is struggling to deal with childhood trauma or something as simple as a breakup.
“Popular belief is that asking someone if they are having suicidal thoughts is wrong,” Scott said. “It actually opens up the door for you to show that you care and are attentive to the changes of the person and they will be more likely to open up and tell you what is going on.”