By Rachel Seymour
POULSBO — Bev Cobain, a retired Bremerton nurse, can’t stress how important it is for people to educate themselves on how to handle suicidal thoughts and depression.
Cobain, who specialized in mental health nursing, has not only battled suicidal thoughts herself but lost three family members to suicide — two uncles and a second cousin, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.
“You don’t have to live in fear, but you need to be aware,” she said.
Cobain will be one of four speakers at a suicide prevention forum Saturday at Poulsbo City Hall.
Saturday’s forum will address warning signs, how to support those struggling with suicidal thoughts, local services, survivors of suicide and crisis intervention with local law enforcement.
Suicide was not something Cobain’s family talked about, even after it affected them directly. The taboo is slowly fading, she said, but not nearly fast enough.
People still lower their voices when they talk about suicide in public, she said.
“When you are talking about your loved ones, don’t lower your voice,” Cobain said.
According to a report from the Kitsap Public Health District, 20 percent of the county’s 10th-graders reported they had “seriously considered attempting suicide” in 2012, and 32 percent of them felt “sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities.”
Teens are more likely to attempt suicide than other age groups, highlighting the need for more youth outreach, according to according to Kelly Schwab, program manager for the Crisis Clinic of the Peninsulas. Local and national increases in senior suicides also have been noted.
The county health district reported the highest rate of suicide deaths in people 65 and older from 2002 to 2011 with 20 deaths per 100,000 people. The county also had significantly more male deaths, 21 per 100,000 people, from suicides than females, five per 100,000.
And this time of year is especially difficult for those struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. As spring changes to summer, the number of suicides rises across the nation, Schwab said.
A lot of people think there is a spike around the holidays, he said, but not as many during this time of year.
It’s uncertain exactly why this trend happens, but Schwab has a theory.
People expect to be stressed or depressed during the winter or around the holidays, and the Crisis Clinic does take more calls during these times. But when spring and summer arrive, people don’t expect depression to stay, Schwab said.
They realize it’s not the weather, he said, it’s internal.
Another misconception about suicide is that it is a choice.
Suicide is the only option a suicidal person sees at that point, Schwab said.
And suicidal people don’t see it as a selfish act.
They convince themselves everyone around them would be better off without them, Schwab said.
Saturday’s forum will discuss other myths about suicide as well as prevention.
Suicide can be shocking, but if you know what to look for you are more apt to notice the signs, Cobain said.
Those signs could help save a life.
What: Suicide prevention and community education
When: 10 a.m.-noon Saturday
Where: Poulsbo City Hall, 200 Moe St. NE