Suicide rate increase leads to community discussion in Charlotte

Suicide rates continue to climb across the U.S. including within the Carolinas and the City of Charlotte.

Doctors, health care providers and a suicide survivor met in Plaza Midwood Wednesday for an event to discuss the ongoing struggle of mental illness and suicide rates.

"Often the narrative is that suicide only effects other people,” said the Vice President of Atrium Health Behavioral Health Charlotte, Victor Armstrong.

Every 12 minutes someone in the U.S. dies by suicide. That means every hour about five people lose hope and end their life.

"Please remember that you are not alone,” said survivor, Chad Simpson.

Simpson almost became a statistic not once, but twice.

"The man who gave me to greatest gift I ever received was a nurse,” said Simpson.

That nurse not only gave Simpson the gift of life, but also hope, by telling him it's ok to struggle with mental illness.

"I know that on both attempts I thought my family would be better off without me,” said Simpson.

He quickly learned that wasn't true. He has a successful career and is married with a family.

"I think I knew that to begin with but you have to remember looking through a distorted lens, caused by mental illness, I couldn't see it,” said Simpson.

Wednesday he told his story of survival to hundreds of people in Charlotte, a city where suicides continue to climb.

"We don't have enough services in socioeconomically challenged areas,” said Armstrong.

Atrium Health has now started a zero suicide initiative here every patient is asked if they've considered suicide. Discussions, like what happened Wednesday, are also becoming more common.

"The more we have the conversation about the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression and having the closer we are to ending suicide,” said Armstrong.

Click here to learn more about Atrium Health's Mental Health First Aid Kit.