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Pocatello welcomes new counseling center as suicide rates climb

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POCATELLO, Idaho - A new counseling center opened its doors to eastern Idaho today. This happens amid the Gem State's suicide numbers looking more prevalent in recent months.

Nearly two dozen people stood around to watch as Gateway Counseling cut the ribbon to officially open its doors this afternoon. With numerous other counseling centers around the region, the need for this one is actually quite prevalent.

"We are seeing an elevated level of suicide, depression, and mood disorders," Gateway Counseling Clinical Director and Counselor Corey Richardson said.

This comes during a time when Generation Y is struggling to find a stable career after graduation, making them look more like Generation Jobless.

According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the number of suicides spiked during the recession. In 2009, the number stood at 307, a big jump from 218 in 2006. These numbers are not looking any better, however. The latest numbers reported in 2011 came out to 284 suicide deaths across the state.

Richardson said social pressures along with a feeling of emptiness play a big role in depression leading to suicide.

"Because it is so hard to find a meaningful job and because we have it so engrained in our culture that a man's value is based upon whether or not they have a good job – and if you do not have a good job, then you do not have value," Richardson explained.

He also noted these pressures comply with both men and women, with the female population feeling more apt to succumb to social pressures regarding physique, beauty, and family life.

Along the lines of monetary burdens, he also said those who were once used to having money but now have to get used to a more financially-humbled lifestyle are likely to fall under this category as well. However, those who are considered poor, but are on the socio-economic rise are more likely to instead be happier people.

Richardson also said those who are most likely to attempt suicide are those who are considered geniuses.

Although there are countless other reasons and causes leading-up to why individuals in our society feel the need to attempt suicide, these are among the leading causes.

Gateway Counseling financial director Pat Seiler said she has noticed a large number of individuals who struggle to afford this type of care.

"There were some that were dumpster diving to get food and living in cardboard boxes," Seiler said in regards to those she saw before getting help. "Now, they have a home and are doing really, really well and I'm pretty proud of them."

Gateway Counseling is a subsidiary of the nonprofit counseling center, Well Balanced, which helps those in need who are too poor to afford proper care.

According to Richardson and Seiler, Gateway Counseling is the only counseling center in Pocatello that accepts Medicaire insurance because they want to see everyone get the proper care they need.

However, the statewide economic struggles are not just impacting those who are seeking help. The budget cuts are about to take a toll on counseling centers across the board.

Both Richardson and Seiler said the state legislature has decided to cut-back on spending for the a certain program called Psycho-Social Rehabilitation, or PSR. In a nutshell, this program provides counseling skills to patients so they can take those skills and knowledge home with them so they can learn to deal with certain issues on their own instead of solely during counseling sessions.

Richardson said if you know someone who is going through a time of depression, it is vitally important for family and friends to show support and let them know they are loved. He also said to be watching for signs including talk to suicide while seeking professional help.

Richardson said the state is doing a good job at recognizing suicide as being a significant and rising issue, as Idaho ranks seventh in the nation for the highest increase in suicide rates since 2010. This just means Idaho reports  these numbers more often than other states.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, there are a number of counseling services across southeast Idaho. You can also call the Idaho suicide prevention hotline at: 1-800-273-TALK for more information on how to seek help.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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