Dear Carolyn,

I have heard at least two relatives say since Thanksgiving, “I might as well kill myself.” One is an adult male in the restaurant business who has had a hard time in the pandemic. The other is a teen that has school issues related to the pandemic. I have to wonder if both have some depression. Then I hear that the holidays increase the suicide rate. Can I help them? How?


Carolyn Answers,

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, if you can believe CDC, reports that suicide is lower in December (Annenberg Public Policy Center). CDC contends that holiday suicide is a perpetuated dangerous myth by media.

However, CDC has reported that the struggle with mental health issues is up with the pandemic, and further that 11 percent of adults have considered suicide.

On Dec. 8, Spencer Smith, a high school student in Maine, killed himself. Spencer had spent all summer working out so he could play football for his school. He was a lineman. The school changed the football to “flag” football, and Spencer gave up. He stopped working out. He grappled with remote learning. His father describes him as a “great kid.”

How can you help? It is important to emphasize that the pandemic will be over and things will go back to normal. Get professional help as needed. Under our state law, you can have your loved one, who is threatening to harm himself, considered for an involuntary commitment situation, which seems drastic – but could be critical. Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. For immediate help with suicidal thoughts, call 911. Yes, the police will come and will most likely take the suicidal person for a mental health evaluation, but that is a preventive measure to save your loved one.

Suicide is real. It is permanent. And, it does happen. Ask Spencer Smith’s family.


Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC 27427. Please do not put identifying information in your questions. Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…”