Sheriff Eric Levett

What is happening in the Rockdale community to warrant 106 Suicide calls since Jan. 1, 2018? It’s a startling trend for me as the sheriff. We need to figure out how to change the stigma of seeking help.

As I comb through the pages of the numerous incident reports mentioned above, I found situations of academic failure, domestic disputes, a young girl with a broken heart, the loss of employment, bullying gone out of control, mental illness without medication and sexual abuse that someone was afraid to report. While there are many factors that can influence a person’s decision to commit suicide, the most common one is mental illness — very commonly depression. People feeling suicidal are overwhelmed by painful emotions and see death as the only way out, losing sight of the fact that suicide is a permanent “solution” to a temporary state. Most people who try to kill themselves but live later say they are glad they didn’t die.

What can we do in our community to affect the rate of suicide attempts? The first thing we can all do to help prevent suicide is talk about it. No person in a suicidal state or struggling with any mental health issue should have to feel silenced or shamed. The same is true for people who are worried about a friend or family member. They should know that they can reach out and make a difference. Too often, people are afraid to bring up the subject of suicide, fearing that they’ll be wrong. This is a big misconception. People need to talk about suicide and open the doors of communication to those suffering with suicidal thoughts. These individuals need to know that they are not alone and that there is an entire community who is there, who can relate, and who will support them in the hardest of times.

Next, pay attention to the warning signs. One of the most common questions I hear about suicide is, “How can I tell if a person is suicidal?” There are many warning signs for suicide that we can all look out for when we think someone may be in trouble. Common signs such as isolating oneself or perceiving oneself as a burden can cause a suicidal individual to withdraw, and therefore, we may be less inclined to notice what that person is going through.

Finally, share resources that are available to anyone who is suicidal or who is worried about someone who may be suicidal. These include: The Georgia Crisis and Access Line. The Georgia Crisis and Access Line is 1-800-715-4225. It’s a 24-hour number, someone is always there to answer that phone call and there is no charge for receiving help. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Call or Chat Online). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and their website also has an online chat feature. You can contact them anytime if you’re worried that you or someone you know may be in crisis. Crisis Text Line. There is a 24/7 Crisis Text Line available, where you can text trained crisis counselors. The text line is free and confidential and can be reached by texting “GO” TO 741741.

Suicide prevention is my primary goal, and getting there, while challenging, is possible. It is helpful to understand the risk. Let’s join together as a community and make a difference in someone’s life.

Eric Levett is sheriff of Rockdale County.


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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