ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Sadly, suicide is not just a nationwide problem. It also affects many right here in central Louisiana. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average, one person in Louisiana dies by suicide every 13 hours.
LSUA Associate Psychology Professor Cynthia Thomas | Image Source: KALB
LSUA Associate Professor of Psychology, Cynthia Thomas, said Avoyelles and Evangeline Parish have suicide rates higher than the state and national average.
With substance abuse and firearms being two of the leading methods of suicide, Thomas believes rates are higher in these areas because of the opioid epidemic and easy access to firearms.
However, the good news is, these rates can be lowered.
"The top three causes of death that are not going down that have actually increased over the last decade are Alzheimer's, suicide and opioid addiction," Thomas said.
"Two of those are preventable. Two of those are deaths of despair. Drug use and suicide are deaths of despair. That's something that, if we had the resources, we would be able to do something about."
In an effort to provide more resources for the public, the LSUA Psychology Club will host an "Out of the Darkness" suicide prevention walk, mental health forums and safe talks that train on how to talk to people contemplating suicide.
According to Thomas, some other common causes of suicide are mental illness, economics, relationships and incarceration. If someone begins to give their things away, says goodbye to people, or withdraws socially, it could be signs that they are contemplating suicide.
What do you do if you notice someone like that? Thomas says simply talking to them is the best solution. Ask them if they are okay and then seek out help on their behalf if needed.