Seasonal Affective Disorder: Nevada's Suicide Season


The post-holiday blues are a real concern for those who suffer Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is depression that spikes during the winter months. Suicide has long been a major problem in Nevada. The state is #5 in the nation for suicides. Angela Fuller, a clinical professional counselor at the Well Care Group in Reno, finds that fact very believable. As she told us, "Absolutely."

Angela is on the front lines, one of many therapists in Reno here to help. She has 50 clients at the Well Care Group on Mill Street, and like the others there, she’s trained to catch the signs -- like the young man who was giving his things away: "That's kind of a warning sign. If someone starts giving away their belongings and possessions, And the final trigger was, he found a safe place for his dog."

It's a problem big enough to put Nevada near the top of another unfortunate list. We are fifth in the nation for suicides, and the problem seems to be getting worse. Angela told me, "Young people are really high risk, especially in Nevada."

The latest data shows suicide is the third leading cause of death for young Nevadans between 15 and 24, and the second leading cause of death for ages 25 to 35. Even more alarming: for every teen that dies by suicide, it's estimated that 100 to 200 teens have attempted. And Nevada has the highest elder suicide rate in the country. Local issues aren’t helping. What does Angela sense out there? "There's a lot of a sense of loss lately with the housing. People are struggling just to make ends meet right now, so it’s a financial burden on a lot of people."

And if there's a season for suicide, it's winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing, brought on by holiday stress and shorter days. Angela says "We see it a lot here: a lot of depression, a lot of isolation. And an increase in substance abuse also which contributes to that."

Angela and The Well Care Group do what they can. She believes in what she does. Lives have been saved. She tells me reaching out is the best thing anyone can do. "Oh, absolutely important. Suicide is 100% preventable. So if you or a family member need help, reach out."