Freeman News

Ozark Center Observes World Suicide Prevention Day

September 09, 2015

The mental health professionals at Ozark Center, the behavioral health division of Freeman Health System, urge the community to join them in their efforts to prevent suicides and save precious lives.

JOPLIN, Mo. – In observance of World Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday, September 10, the mental health professionals at Ozark Center, the behavioral health division of Freeman Health System, urge the community to join them in their efforts to prevent suicides and save precious lives. Members of the community can show support for suicide prevention and honor lost loved ones and survivors of suicide by lighting a candle near a window at 8 pm on Thursday, September 10.

Suicide affects the lives of everyone. Each year, millions of people are affected by the suicides and attempted suicides of friends and family members.1 Losing a loved one to suicide is devastating; it is truly an immeasurable loss for families, friends and communities.

Suicide is often surrounded by fear, silence and stigma. “It is true that suicide is a scary word – nobody likes to talk about it. Many people are unsure where or how to get help,” said Deborah Fitzgerald, EdS, LPC, NCC, Ozark Center Director of Crisis Services.

By breaking the silence, we can help avert the tragedy of suicide. “Reaching out to someone who is struggling can save his or her life,” said Fitzgerald. “Talk directly with your loved one about your concerns and encourage him or her to seek help.”

Sadly, more than 800,000 people die from suicide each year, which equates to approximately one death every 40 seconds.2 It’s important to note that the number of deaths reflects only a portion of individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts and behavior. According to a 2012 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 8 million American adults reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, 2.5 million made a suicide plan in the past year and 1.1 million attempted suicide in the past year.

While the causes of suicide are complex, the highest risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt. Additionally, those who suffer from depression are at a high risk. The best way to minimize the risk is to recognize the warning signs, which include:

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

Ozark Center encourages those who are struggling to seek the help of a mental health professional. Call 417.347.7720 or 800.247.0661 to be connected any time, 24/7, with a trained Ozark Center mental health counselor. Ozark Center also provides TxtAboutIt, a secure, anonymous communication service that allows people to receive help via text or computer – to register, simply text REGISTER to 720-7-TXTOZK. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800.273.TALK (8255). There are no charges for these services.

1 Source: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

2 Source: World Health Organization

Freeman Health System – Celebrating 90 Years
Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2014, Freeman earned 90 individual awards for medical excellence and safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report ranked Freeman #1 Hospital in Southwest Missouri in 2014-15, and The Leapfrog Group gave Freeman the highest grade possible in the Fall 2014 Hospital Safety Score. With more than 300 physicians on staff representing more than 60 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart and vascular care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit or or follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at #FreemanTurns90