By LaKeshia N. Myers
“Tis the season, to be jolly, but what happens if I have nobody?”—the opening line of the Emotions’ 1973 Christmas classic poses a very frank question. I thought about this after hearing the news of the death of dancer and television DJ tWitch, Stephen Boss. According to news outlets, Boss died by suicide. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office concluded their examination and published the report on his death on Wednesday.
As I thought about the number of celebrities we’ve lost in the past few years to suicide, I also thought of the number of everyday people who have either attempted suicide or been monitored for suicidal ideation. As an educator I have seen the number of children with mental health concerns constantly rise. I have also encountered more and more young people who threaten to harm themselves or are taking antidepressants.
Statistics available from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) posit that between 2011 and 2020, suicide rates increased for those ages fifteen to twenty-four, twenty-five to thirty-four, and thirty-five to forty-four. For the forty-five-to-fifty-four age group, there was a steady rate and then a decline at about 2019. For those ages fifty-five to sixty-four, there was a steady increase from 2011 and then a downward turn in 2018. The 65+ age group saw a steady rate until 2017 and then an uptick until 2018, when it declined.
The holiday season can be particularly difficult for individuals who suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. For those who have distant families or need assistance, there are resources available to help you. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
The following resources are also available for residents of the Milwaukee Metro area:
HOPELINE Crisis Text Line: Text the word “Hopeline” to 741741
Trevor Lifeline (LGBTQ): 1-866-488-7386
TrevorText: Text “START” to 678678. Monday – Friday 2pm–9pm CT
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860 Hours of operation 9am-3am CST
Peer support hotline is run by and for people who are transgender
Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division
Psychiatric Crisis Service/Admissions: 414-257-7260
Milwaukee County Crisis Mobile Team (adult): 414-257-7222
Milwaukee County Children’s Mobile Crisis: 414-257-7621
Please know you don’t have to suffer and you don’t have to be alone. We need you in our community.