AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - For the past 5 years, Dr. Vaughn McCall has dedicated time and research into learning more about suicides and a factor that his department says contributes to it is lack of sleep.
"It's been known for more than 10, 20 years that people that have trouble with sleeping and people have nightmares for that matter are at increased risk of suicide," says Dr. McCall.
His department has monitored people at risk for suicide through clinical trials. "We randomized 103 suicidal insomniacs over a period of 6 years and did not have 1 suicidal attempt," he explains.
While Dr. McCall has seen success so far from that project, nationwide, the numbers are surprising. According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased across the country in the last 20 years.
Georgia has increased by 16% and South Carolina by 38%. Dr. McCall is now studying whether treatment like sleeping pills reduces the intensity of suicidal thinking.
"Part of the message is patients and doctors have to speak the truth to each other and it has to be done without any fear, that way people can get the care they need," he says.
If a loved one comes forward expressing those thoughts, Dr. McCall says it's best to take action and seek help for them because you never know what can happen down the line.
"I've seen people who are angry initially, but later profusely thanked their loved one for doing the right thing and a life may be saved in the process."
One non-verbal sign of people experiencing suicidal thoughts is self-neglect.
If you've been experiencing suicidal thoughts, here's a number you can call - 1-800-273-8255.