A lone ornament hangs on Austin Collins’ Christmas tree. It contains a picture of her father David Gille.
“A lot of people have said he would have given the shirt off his back for you,” said Collins.
The Air Force veteran, 52, committed suicide last Friday – just after Thanksgiving – after struggling with depression for years.
“You know we weren’t that close the last couple years,” Collins said. “But I did love him a lot and I know he loved me a lot.”
Collins said her father went to the ER twice before after saying he wanted to kill himself.
She said insurance did not cover the visits and at least one of them cost $10,000. Collins said despite her family’s best attempts to convince him to get help – he would not take it.
“You have to keep pushing to get them help,” said Collins.
Suicide prevention services specialist Laura Gold with Austin-Travis County Integral Care explains what family members can do to help those who have suicidal thoughts.
“The best thing to do is not to leave them alone,” Gold said. “Next thing is letting them know you’re going to be there to help them.”
The Centers for Disease Control reports it is a myth there are more suicides during the holidays. The CDC said the rate peaks in the spring and fall.
However, suicide prevention specialists say this season can trigger loneliness and stress for those already struggling with depression. And if you know someone who may be struggling with depression – there are indicators.
“Losing interest in activities they normally enjoyed or pulling away from family and friends,” said Gold. “Feeling sad … giving things away.”
As for Collins, she wants other families to speak up about their loved ones dealing with suicidal thoughts.
“I encourage others to just take the leap of faith,” said Collins. “Reach out to friends and family and let them know what they’re going though, and ask for that support.”
The Austin Travis County Integral Care office provides a crisis hotline to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts or their family members.
That number is 512-472 HELP.
You can also bring them to Integral Care’s Psychiatric Emergency Services at 56 East Avenue in Austin. Psychiatric Emergency Services is a walk-in clinic open seven days a week.