County seeing spike in suicides

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer

The number of suicides in Curry County in the first six months of 2006 has nearly reached the yearly average, according to local and state figures.

There have been four suicides in 2006 — two in the county and two in the city, according to police. Curry County averaged five suicides per year from 1999 to 2004, according to the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque. There was one suicide in Curry County in 2005, said Lt. Jim Schoeffel, public information officer for the Clovis Police Department.

Local law enforcement and health officials said they have no explanation for the increase. They said the numbers tend to fluctuate.
Sheriff Roger Hatcher said somehow people need to see there are other options, he said.

“If you’re that far in the barrel the only place you can go is up — the only thing you have left is optimism because it can’t get … any worse,” Hatcher said.

Heidi Borden with the Clovis Counseling Center said she has noticed a slight increase in suicidal thoughts among her 30 or so clients in the past month.

The increase is a concern, however, determining the cause is difficult, she said.

Of particular alarm she said is the overwhelming gender slant that leads her to wonder if men are being missed through suicide education and community resources.

Traditionally family providers, men are experiencing more stress these days with increased financial strains such as high gas prices and inflation, she said.

Persons at risk for suicide are sent to the emergency room where they are evaluated by a physician, she said. Often if the emergency room is full, those people are sent to jail where they are held in protective custody.

“The next time they might feel suicidal again they don’t call because they don’t want to go to jail,” she said. “I wish we had a 24-hour crisis intervention facility, but our community does not have that,” Borden said.
“People need to feel like they can talk to someone about how they are feeling,” she said.