East TN woman shares story of suicide, finding hope

Local News

In the wake of another high profile celebrity suicide this week, tough conversations are happening surrounding mental health. On Friday, chef and storyteller, Anthony Bourdain committed suicide in France at 61-years old.

Earlier this week, 55-year old fashion designer, Kate Spade, was found dead inside her New York City home. Authorities ruling her death a suicide as well.

A Knoxville woman who shared her story about suicide and the hope she’s found.

There’s a reason Tina Wilder sits at a desk every day, “I don’t know how I survived and I always asked the same questions ‘Why am I here?'”

She’s worked for the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee since 2014. She speaks to those contemplating suicide.

“I tried seven times to commit suicide and I’m here to say there is hope at the end of the tunnel,” said Wilder.

She said that it was a traumatic childhood, hardships as an adult, and a diagnosis with a mental health disorder that compounded the problem, “I didn’t realize I had a choice because all I knew is what I grew up with, you handle mental health by trying to commit suicide. There are other options and that option is to reach out for help.”

The Mental Health Association of East Tennessee telling us for each completed suicide, there are usually 17 to 25 attempts.

“We really want to try and minimize the number of attempts and really reach out and get the person help right away,” said Director Ben Harrington.

It starts by paying attention to warning signs and symptoms.

“Trust their gut feeling. Has someone changed significantly,” said Harrington, “Keep listening, ask some questions, and then it never hurts to ask the toughest one: are you thinking of harming yourself?”

Warning Signs of Suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

It’s important to know no matter the circumstances or barriers, there is a lifeline. Crisis counselors are there to talk, find treatment centers or support groups, and even ways to pay for counseling.

“Reach out earlier. Get that person help earlier,” said Harrington.

Wilder sharing a powerful message.

“I know it may be difficult but reach out for help. There is a light, eventually you will see it,” she said.

What can you do to help?

  • Always call 911 first if you are a threat to yourself or others
  • Speak to your family, friends and loved ones. Have a conversation and really ask how they are feeling. Listen and offer assistance when needed
  • Seek help through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. This is a confidential phone call offering emotional support 24-hours a day, 7-days a week
  • Text TN to 741-741 to reach the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, a crisis text line that offers free 24/7 text messaging support for people in crisis.
  • Lifeline web chat as a service of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Conversations online are free and confidential
  • Text TALK to 741741. You are able to text with a crisis counselor about any painful issue which you need support for
  • Visit the Mental Health Association fo East Tennessee’s website for a full list of crisis services.
  • Receive certification in Mental Health First Aid. The 8-hour-long course teaches individuals how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders.  Find a course here.

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