Too Many Gone as a result of suicides

Uncover why suicides happen and who they affect in "Too Many Gone" / File

Tina Sumner had a job, a family, and an inner struggle. In 2001, she lost her job, including her medical benefits â" and her way of keeping her depression under control. Shortly after, her family received a call that she had attempted suicide.

"I can still remember being in the emergency room and hearing her screaming as they're trying to pump her stomach and bring her back," said J.D. Sumner, Tina's son.

J.D. said he immediately questioned how he didn't recognize the signs â" which experts say are able to be spotted if you know what to look for.

"If you see changes in somebody's ability to function, if you see that they're withdrawing more from things, if you see that they're not really associating with others or they're keep their distance, they seem down, sad, depressed or withdrawn," said Dr. Cheryl Kaiser of Insight Psychotherapy.

Dr. Kaiser says this behavior is tied to hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness â" the key associated symptoms with suicidality. With suicide claiming at least 3 in Albany and 4 in Douglas this year alone, Kaiser says it's a serious issue.

"Any illness can happen to anyone. All kinds of bad things can happen to all kinds of good people. We have to be mindful of the fact that depression does not discriminate. Depression can happen to anyone and everyone at any given time."

Recent local cases have proven this â" earlier this month our local media partner the Albany Herald reported 78-year-old Amaya King was found dead in the dress shop she owned on Mercer Avenue of an apparent suicide.

King, who -- with her husband â" was honored in the 1978 issue of Ebony magazine, was well-respected by the community. Her death came as a shock to those close to her.

Steve Wood, a local coroner, says although suicides are hard on the family, they're also a tough part of the job.

"We look at the evidence that's there and we go with the evidence. No matter how hard it is to tell them that's what happened, if that's in fact what the evidence is telling us took place, then that's what it is," said Wood, who has had 5 suicides in Tift County so far this year.

"Suicide affects everybody else except for that person because at that point, they're gone. But everybody else is left behind to deal with it," said Wood.

It can be so damaging, in fact â" it can cause a ripple effect in those closest to the victim.

"Depression does in fact run in families, we know that from statistics. So when you have a suicidal person in the family, that means there's probably depression in the family so it wouldn't be that surprising to think that other people in the family would have depression and subsequently maybe be suicidal at the same time," said Dr. Kaiser.

Sumner says if there's anything he's learned from his mother's attempt, it's that he's at risk as well â" and he's taken the steps to ensure he's not on the same path.

"There's a silver lining because I think I'm in a position where I'm least likely now to do something like that myself."

Sumner regularly participates in health check-ups and says he makes sure he has a support system to reach out to â" one of the most important steps a person dealing with suicidal thoughts can take.

"Reach out, talk to your doctor, talk to a mental health professional. If you're a kid in school, go to your school counselor, talk to one of the coaches, one of the teachers, one of the professionals, talk to your pastor. Reach out to someone, you're not alone. You're never alone," said Dr. Kaiser.

Dr. Kaiser says she's seen and heard of many successful cases for those who took the steps to get healthy â" and, after her attempt, Tina Sumner got the help she needed and was able to live normally proving with therapy, depression is a disease that can be fought.

"There is hope for a brighter tomorrow. Today is not the end unless we make it the end," said J.D. Sumner.

If you or anyone you know is suffering with depression visit for a complete list of resources in the area.

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