Suicide and Mental Illness Close to Home in Wyoming

Kelsey Rose Wilson

Last week a Laramie Boomerang obituary page included a teen’s face.

Kelsey Wilson was a 16-year-old student at Laramie High School.

While I didn’t know her, what my untrained eyes see in her photo is a young woman who was well loved in life.

And what pain she felt in that life, I can only imagine.

Alongside the shock of her age, the obituary contained a raw plea.

“Suicide and depression are difficult topics to discuss, and the family hopes you will talk with your loved ones to help bring it into the light and reduce the stigma surrounding it.

“The family asks you write your legislators and representatives in Congress to push for better mental health interventions and suicide prevention services in Wyoming.”

I grieve for Kelsey and for her family.

And my own letter to Representative Liz Cheney has already been sent.

The Tragic Truth

–  31% of teens nationwide have symptoms of depression.

–  Wyoming has the 4th highest suicide rate in the country.

–  In Wyoming, worry about suicide in teens is becoming
the top reported concern.

–  1 out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9–12)
seriously considered suicide in the past year.

–  Teen suicides in Wyoming are rising and are
nearly three times the national average.

The top blue line shows Wyoming’s deaths by suicide per 100,000 for youth aged 15-19. The lower blue line is the national number.

Take Action!

•  Write Representative Liz Cheney.

•  Read Preventing Suicide in Wyoming.

•  Be reminded of good people doing good work in Wyoming:

–  Peace as Learned and Teachable Skills

–  Pain Should Not Be Wasted: The Story of Three Parents

–  Carla Trier Brings Heaps of Love By Way of the Foster Parent Exchange

.   .   .

Ellen is a native of northern Maine. Her interest in getting to know Wyoming focuses on ways people and organizations help and protect individuals, wildlife, beauty, and rights. She is a HeartMath® trainer and coach, a Connection Practice trainer and coach, and a biodynamic craniosacral therapist. Her website is:  EllenSynakowski.com and her email is EllenSynakowski@icloud.com.

“Remember that justice is what love looks like in public.” – Cornel West

One thought on “Suicide and Mental Illness Close to Home in Wyoming”

  1. Ellen, thank you for posting this. It’s heartbreaking to read.

    I began working for two psychiatrists 14 months ago and am learning a great deal about mental health. We receive multiple emails, journals and newsletters with new statistics, research data, and information on a daily basis. A couple of days ago, we received an email from the California Psychiatric Association containing an article (link at bottom). The top paragraph caught my attention: “Suicidal teenagers have claimed the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why raised their risk of taking their lives, according to a study.”

    One of my employers is a Board certified forensic psychiatrist who is retained by attorneys, corporations, courts, and the government to conduct Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs) and psychological assessments of individuals who are suffering from emotional distress, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and myriad other mental / emotional / physical challenges (or they claim to be). It’s his ethical duty to conduct and administer various tests and provide reports and/or testimony of his expert opinions as an impartial mental health professional.

    In two recent cases, his prognosis of people he examined was excellent because they had tremendous support from hospital personnel after traumatic accidents as well as from close family members. What I learned from these two cases is the importance of positive people in the lives of those who undergo a traumatic experience. Emotional support is key to our ability to bounce back and fully recover.

    On the other hand, those who are most at risk for long-term disability or poor prognosis are those who do not have close, positive family or friend connections; i.e., those who feel alone.

    In the second to the last paragraph in the Netflix article, this is most telling: “…children at risk of suicide did not reach out to adults.”

    What I have learned from experiencing multiple traumas in my own life; observing various close family members’ suffer; in my work as a court, hearing, and deposition reporter; and my current work, is when we feel isolated, depressed, ashamed, or suffer from a chronic mental/emotional challenge, the last thing we want to do is to reveal those deep, vulnerable parts of ourselves to others. So we remain silent and don’t seek help or support. Combined with feelings of unworthiness and/or hopelessness, the next step – for many – is suicide, to stop the pain.

    It is crucial for the well-being of others that we let them know they are not alone, they are loved no matter what, and we LISTEN without judgment (not give advice) to what they say about how they feel and respect their needs.

    At our core, we all have deep needs to matter, to be loved and accepted as we are, to be heard and understood. If one thing could change in our school system, work, and society it would be required daily discourse and practices teaching empathic, nonjudgmental listening and compassionate support.

    https://www.newsweek.com/netflixs-13-reasons-why-linked-raised-suicide-risk-study-1223990

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