Suicide report hits close to home for member of KCBD family

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The CDC released a disturbing new report on Thursday, saying national suicide rates have climbed by nearly a third since 1999, a statistic that hits close to home for a member of our KCBD family.

The numbers are up in nearly every state, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death overall.

The death of Kate Spade has brought national attention to the tragedy of suicide.

A member of our NewsChannel 11 family has recently suffered a similar loss and is hoping her personal message will send a wake up call to families everywhere.

Kelly Plasker brings you the forecast every Saturday and Sunday morning on NewsChannel 11.

She is perhaps the spunkiest member of our First Alert Weather Team. What you don't see on the air is a broken heart.

She says, "He was two weeks way from turning 20."

On February 17, Kelly's son, Thomas, took his own life, the same way fashion designer Kate Spade ended hers.

Kelly shudders over the similarity, "With somebody in the house, he still felt so alone that he made that choice."

Alone in the house with roommates, but loved by a large family and more than 200 people who came to his funeral to say goodbye.

The three friends he shared a house with spoke at his funeral.

Their message was clear, "He was our leader."

That's why Kelly says, "It's very difficult for those of us who knew him to comprehend why."

According to the CDC, suicide is the 2nd-leading cause of death in young people between the age of 10 and 34, claiming 45,000 lives every year.

Dr. Andy Young is a Psychologist and Counselor at Lubbock Christian University.

He is also the coordinator of the crisis team for the Lubbock Police Department and a consultant for the SWAT and negotiating team.

Dr. Young says, "Last year, we had 277 calls for service. It wasn't all suicide, but usually grief."

Kelly has great praise for LPD and its crisis team: "If it hadn't been for the crisis team and Dr. Young, I would not have made it through that first month."

Dr. Young says Kelly was like most people in that she was shocked at the number of resources that are available and free to families who are grieving.

The first place he recommends?  "Hospice of Lubbock," he says. "A lot of people don't understand that Hospice is a place you can go for counseling in the death of a loved one."

Another resource for Kelly, Compassionatefriends.org.

Dr. Young says, "They even have meetings here, even though it's a support group over the internet."

Kelly hopes that other families can avoid the suffering altogether and prevent suicide by talking about it.

With tears in her eyes, she told me, "You know his little brother is so much like him. I was talking to him yesterday, 'please don't do this.'"

Kate Spade's husband, Andy, said of his wife's passing, "It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn't her."

Kelly says the same thing about her son, that his suicide was a shock and it just didn't fit his personality.

The CDC says only about half the suicides in this country include people who were actually diagnosed with a mental illness.

Even if you don't suspect a problem, there are warning signs.

Dr. Christine Moutier from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, says, "Any change in behavior patterns, withdrawing, sadness, irritability, anger, and losing their temper more quickly, those would all be indicators that possibly that person's mental health is deteriorating."

Dr. Moutier says those are clues that a person needs help.

The CDC wants people to remember that suicides are preventable.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Or locally, if you need help for someone who is having thoughts of suicide, you can call Contact Lubbock at 806-778-6959.

StarCare is another local resource for family crisis. That hotline number is 806-740-1414.

The National Text Line is another source of support. Just text 741741.

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