Jonesboro is seeing a drastic increase in suicide calls

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Christmas isn't a joyful time for everyone.

Many people suffer from depression during the holiday season.

Depression is a medical condition that can be caused by hereditary, environment, work based, financially based or even develop because of the changing seasons.

The Emergency 911 Director for the city of Jonesboro Jeff Presley said the changing season have affected the number of calls they're getting.

"You know, this time of year when the weather gets cooler," Presley said. "The days get shorter and there is less sunlight. We see an increase in calls of suicidal thoughts, welfare concerns and things like that."

Presley said it's proven that sunlight is very important to a person's mental health.

"In the old days they called it wintertime depression," Presley said. "Those calls have really picked up this year. It's a major concern in our area. I think it's something I really need to look at," Presley said. "We need to make sure we're getting the help out there to these folks who are calling."

Presley said the calls that have come into the 911 center have doubled.

"If you look at the summertime starting in May, June and July," Presley said. "And compare that to the same amount of time in the wintertime, it's doubled. Just in this month alone we've had seven of those types of calls in December. All together since the first of October we've had fifty-five of those calls. So, you never know when that call is going to come in, but we want to make sure we can get that help out there to them."

Presley said it's also hard on the people who respond to these calls.

"It does take an emotional toll," Presley said. "Not only to the first responders and police officers and the medics going out to the scene to help these folks, but the 911 operators. Those who are taking those calls. It can be very challenging, taking those around the holidays. But that's what we're there for. We want to get the help out to them."

Presley said if you experience any signs of depression, pick up the phone!

"If a person is having some issues," Presley said. "If you have problems from depression or suicidal thoughts then you should give us a call. Call us at 911. We're going to get you some help out there. We'll send an officer, paramedics, whatever we need to assess the situation. So, always feel free to call us. That's what we're here for 24/7 to help you."

Signs and symptoms to watch out for are changes in energy or sleep patterns, a loss of interest in activities the person enjoys, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, changes in appetite, or thoughts of death or suicide.

Depression can be corrected with individualized therapy and sometimes with medication.

If dealing with seasonal depression, you can invest in a day lamp.

There's also a new treatment available at St. Bernard's Behavioral Health called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

Just as medications work to improve the brain chemistry that is altered with depression, TMS does the same thing, as it will bypass the internal system and focuses directly on the problem.

Medical Director of Behavioral Health with St. Bernards Dr. Michelle Schofield said TMS has been approved by the FDA and they're seeing a full remission rate of 68% with this method.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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