Blog Post

National Suicide Prevention Month

September 10, 2015

Deborah Fitzgerald, LPC
Mental health – what is it exactly and why does nobody like to talk about it?

We seem to have a code of silence surrounding the topic of mental health. Simply put, mental health is our emotional well-being that affects how we think, feel and act.

We all desire to live full, happy lives with good mental health. However, according to the World Health Organization, only 17% of American adults are considered to be in a state of optimal mental health. The Centers for Disease Control reports that depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting 26% of the U.S. adult population. By the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world.
Undetected and poorly treated depression can place individuals at risk for suicide. Suicide is a scary word and nobody likes to talk about it either. However, suicide remains a leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming 40,600 lives in 2012. In 2013, 958 Missourians lost their lives to suicide, outnumbering lives lost to homicide and motor vehicle accidents that year.

The good news is that depression can be treated successfully. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize the symptoms, nor do they seek treatment. We can avert the tragedy of suicide if we can bring ourselves to simply talk about it, recognize the warning signs and learn what resources are available so that life-saving help can be provided when it is needed most.

Warning signs that indicate a need to seek help include:

  • Withdrawing from life
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Experiencing any significant losses
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling one has no reason to live
  • Feeling trapped
  • Having unbearable emotional pain
  • Wanting to die or kill oneself

If you recognize these warning signs, break the code of silence by talking directly and openly about your concerns. Then, connect your loved one, friend or coworker to the support he or she needs to stay safe and get back to traveling on the road of emotional well-being. 

Nationally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800.273.8255. Ozark Center, the behavioral health division of Freeman Health System, is a great local resource. Visit to learn about services offered. Additionally, Ozark Center crisis services are available 24 hours per day and are staffed by highly trained mental health professionals. You can reach the Crisis Helpline at 417.347.7720 or 800.247.0661. Ozark Center’s TxtAboutIt program is a secure, anonymous communication service that anyone can begin using by texting REGISTER to 720-7-TXTOZK. The Ozark Center crisis services team offers free depression screenings to adults, youths and children daily – call 417.347.7600 for more information.

Help is readily available. Remember that people do recover from emotional setbacks and depression.