Local Organizations Make a Stand to Stop Growing Suicide Rates

Every state except Nevada saw an increase in the number of suicides since 1999

FARGO, N.D. —¬†Baylee Enquist was just one of thousands of teenagers across the country who deal with sadness on a daily basis.

“I was struggling a lot in middle school with depression and anxiety, and was having a hard time reaching out and once I did, I was able to get on the path to be well again,” said Enquist, who served on the Imagine Thriving student board and now works for the organization as an Operations Assistant.

But unlike Baylee, many people do not find help for their suicidal thoughts.

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide rates have skyrocketed across the country in the last twenty years.

“You can tie that into a couple of different things, like the rates of depression, rates of anxiety, stress, substance use, trauma,” said Darrin Tonsfeldt, a psychotherapist who works with The Village Family Service Center in Fargo.

The report from the CDC says that North Dakota had the highest increase in the number of suicide cases, jumping up 58 percent from 1999 to 2016.

But across the metro, many organizations, like Imagine Thriving and The Village, aim to stop this growth from afflicting more lives.

“The way that we work is we connect people with community resources, we have also started a number of programs,” said Heather Zinger, the Executive Director of Imagine Thriving.

One of these programs involves students being paired with student wellness facilitators, which has already had a big impact in the community.

“It makes me feel hopeful that we have a generation that’s coming up that’s going to be more mentally well,” said Brittany Riedinger, the Operations Manager for Imagine Thriving.

Suicide prevention has been a major topic over the last week since celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain committed suicide Friday and fashion designer Kate Spade took her own life Monday.

Tonsfeldt says he isn’t alarmed by the rising number of suicide cases, but he says people should be aware of the resources they have.

“Talk to them. Really just stepping up. There’s no perfect way, it’s just saying ‘hey, you don’t look like you’re doing too well, what’s going on?’,” said Tonsfeldt.

All of these makes Enquist optimistic about the difference the next generation can make.

“You have students coming up to you saying ‘thank you so much, I was hurting, this encouraged me to reach out,’ and then you discover that they have reached out, they are getting help, they’re going to therapy or they’re getting counseling, I don’t have words to describe that feeling,” said Enquist.

For more information on how to get help if you’re feeling depressed or suicidal, click here.

Categories: Community, Health, Local News, North Dakota News