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With the nice weather comes a spike in suicides

There's a perception that suicides are more prevalent over the winter holidays. But in the United States -- Maine included -- spring and summer actually hold the greatest risks.

MAINE, USA — Spring is the time of year when the birds are singing, the flowers start to bloom, and most of us, particularly after a long Maine winter, start to see our moods improve.

But that's not always the case for everyone. Spring is also a season where a darker trend emerges -- a spike in suicides.

Every day and a half in Maine, someone dies from suicide -- numbers that start to rise in early April.

Jenna Mehnert is the executive director of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

"The warning we want to make sure people are aware of is just because it's getting nicer, don't lessen your concern about someone in your life who you think may be having thoughts of suicide," Mehnert said.

Suicide does not discriminate. It affects men and women of all ages and walks of life. 

In Maine, middle-aged men die by suicide at the highest rate.

"Often you'll see a change in mood. It's nice outside. The reality is, they're often in a place where they've come to peace with the plan, and they're getting just enough energy to take action," Mehnert said.

Over the weekend, in Portland alone, there were two suicides.

Volunteers from the Trauma Intervention Program, a program of Maine Behavioral Healthcare, were called to both scenes.

Leslie Skillin is TIP's Program Manager.

"We just know when we arrive what the families are grappling with."

TIP volunteers are called by first responders and hospital personnel to provide emotional first aid and practical support to survivors of traumatic events. They're available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"When we arrive our focus is to be that person's source of strength in order for them to just come to grips with what has happened."

Skillin says if you know someone who just lost a loved one to suicide, don't hold back. She says be present -- don't worry about saying the perfect thing or worry about saying the wrong thing.  

"It's just more about the power of your presence and being available to be a good listener -- not to be judgmental. Just allow that person to share what they want to share or maybe not share at all, and sit quietly.

Jenna Mehnert agrees.

"Space is not helpful when addressing mental health needs."

Good advice, no matter what time of year it is.

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