Suicide Rates Often Spike in Spring: What to Watch for and How to Help
Although many look forward to the calendar officially changing from winter to spring, mental health professionals warn that the change in seasons can also mean an uptick in suicides.
“My personal feeling is that this time of year is just sort of hard,” said Liz Davison, Clinical Supervisor and Child & Family Therapist at Wellpoint Care Network. “We’ve made it through the holidays, which are challenging for a lot of people, or maybe were a bright spot. Now we’re stuck in this cycle of treading water, hoping for spring, wishing it wasn’t gray.”
“It’s usually still kind of gloomy and it’s not quite as exciting to have snow and all of that stuff anymore,” added Melanie Heindl, Clinical Services Supervisor at Wellpoint Care Network. “I think school stressors can have an impact as well. For our youth and parents, spring break is not quite here yet and it’s just treading the water to get to that. I also think daylight savings can really mess with a lot of people’s rhythm.”
There are often signs leading up to someone contemplating suicide.
“One of the really big ones would be hopelessness or helplessness,” said Davison. “A sense of, ‘Nothing I can do will make my life any better and it’s not going to get any better on its own.’ That feeling of being stuck in a bad place or a place that feels painful. Not having positive things in their life; not having goals, future things that they’re looking forward to or not having social relationships. The reason to be piece of it, those reasons to stay alive. Feeling like people won’t care if they’re gone or making statements like that. Being more withdrawn, isolating from social relationships. Giving away possessions that are important, sort of acting out their last will in the moment.”
Davison says another sign is if someone all of a sudden seems to be doing better.
“They will go from really struggling to bright and cheerful and seem fine. Rarely is that how depression and suicidality work. Sometimes what that means is that they’ve made a plan to kill themselves and they’ve set a timeline. So, now they do feel better because they know it’s for a limited time. If I’m completely miserable, but I know on Friday I’m going to kill myself, surviving those next couple days maybe feels easier.”
If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. Here is a list of just a few resources:
And, of course, you can always call 911.