Rotary Club hears from Nicole Dempsey about suicide prevention

Published 5:03 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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Members of the Bainbridge Rotary Club met for their weekly meeting at the Kirbo Center on Tuesday. The guest speaker for the day was Nicole Dempsey, who spoke to the club about suicide prevention. Dempsey, who works as a social worker with the VA’s office dealing with suicide prevention, discussed various facts and statistics pertaining to suicide.

According to Dempsey, anyone can help someone dealing with suicidal thoughts. “One of the most common myths associated with suicide prevention is that you have to be a mental health provider in order to help someone who is struggling with thoughts of suicide, but that can’t be further from the truth,” she said. “We all have the ability to learn how to identify if someone is struggling with thoughts of suicide, and then how to ask them about it, and then how to get them connected with support.” Dempsey did clarify that an unqualified person wouldn’t necessarily be expected to be able to fix the afflicted person’s problems, but that anyone could recognize that there was a problem and to get said person in touch with professional help.

Dempsey also provided some statistics on suicide, including that most cases of suicide were not receiving treatment for mental health, as well as the sex-differential between suicide rates, with male victims of suicide surpassing female victims. Roughly 48,000 people in the United States alone died from suicide last year. Additionally, according to the statistics presented, the suicide rate is higher than the homicide rate.

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Suicide by firearms was the leading method used to commit suicide; one method to prevent this, or at least delay the act long enough to possibly prevent harm, was the use of gun locks. “It does slow down the process a little bit,” Dempsey said, “because we do know that suicide, many times, can be a very crisis-oriented event… they go from having thoughts of suicide to actually acting on those thoughts, it has been reported to be a window of an hour or less.” Similar storage precautions for medication were also recommended.

One other piece of information that was presented to the club was a coalition that Dempsey works with, the SW Georgia Veteran and Family Alliance, which meets on the last Wednesday of the month at the Kirbo Center, from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM.

Following her presentation, Dempsey took questions from the audience.