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After recent suicides in south Denton, counselors talk prevention

Reuben Allred's death on Monday in the Montecito neighborhood was the second suicide reported in that area within roughly two months.

Joe Bain, 79, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on March 5 after he told police he shot his wife, Ruth Bain, at their home in the adjacent neighborhood of Forrestridge Estates. Neighbors said Ruth Bain suffered from a stroke about a year and a half prior to the shooting, and Joe Bain had been her primary caretaker.

In 2016, 85 people died from suicide in Denton County, 49 of whom died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, according to data from Denton County MHMR. Twenty-four suicides were reported in the city of Denton, while Lewisville, the city with the second-highest total in the county, reported eight suicides in 2016, according to the data.

Dr. John Hipple, a senior staff counselor at the University of North Texas, said talk of suicide should always be taken seriously. If a friend or loved one is showing signs of depression, people shouldn't be afraid to immediately question whether they are thinking about harming themselves.

John HippleUniversity of North Texas
John Hipple
University of North Texas

"You won't put ideas in their head by asking," said Hipple, who has been a counselor at UNT since 1977. "Individuals who are stressed, depressed or generally in emotional crisis need the emotional support of others in their lives.  Helping them take constructive action would always be the goal."

Allred was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound near a large pond about 200 yards east of the 3300 block of Santa Monica Drive. The 36-year-old had been pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts in piano performance at UNT. One of his longtime piano instructors said in a Facebook post Tuesday that Allred was a talented pianist whose mind was "as full of brilliance as it was of demons."

The specific reason behind Allred's death remains unclear, but Hipple said high performance standards and demands for perfection among college students can sometimes lead to depression. Coping with depression by using drugs and alcohol may escalate the risk of suicide, he said.

Some people suffering from depression may vaguely hint at suicidal thoughts, he said. Someone giving away their favorite belongings or saying things like "No one is going to care if I'm dead" are key signs, he said.

Hipple said getting adults or elderly people to talk openly about suicidal thoughts can be more difficult.

"Especially in our pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstrap society, if you ask that, they'll say, 'No way,'" he said. "You've got to be persistent with people who are giving you these serious psychological signs of pain."

Landon Dickeson is the coordinator for the Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) Team at the MHMR center, which provides support services to those suffering with depression, mental illness or thoughts of suicide. Dickeson's team dispatches mental health professionals and suicide survivors to the scene of a suicide. They help the victim's loved ones navigate resources to get the support they need.

Dickeson elaborated on more signs of suicidal thoughts, such as any drastic changes in behavior.

"For example, someone who has been consistently depressed then suddenly appears cheerful may be an individual at risk," he said. "Their seeming improvement may be a sign that they have made a decision to take their life."

Dickeson said anyone who knows someone with serious thoughts of suicide should call 911 or the local crisis hotline at 1-800-762-0157. People can also call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882. 

In the Know 

There are several hotlines and websites that offer counseling and resources to help prevent suicide:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Confidential online chat is also available at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

NorthStar/North Texas Behavioral Health Authority: 1201 Richardson Drive, Suite 270, Richardson, TX 75080. Call the 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-866-260-8000, or visit www.ntbha.org.

The Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas: Call the 24-hour hotline at 214-828-1000 to speak to a trained counselor, or go to www.sccenter.org.

Dallas Metrocare Services1-877-283-2121

Breakdown

Suicide deaths in Denton County by age in 2016, according to data from Denton County MHMR: 

Age                                       Number

15-24                                   14

25-34                                  16

35-44                                  13

45-54                                  19

55-64                                  14

65-74                                   4

75+                                        5