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Encouraging words can save lives
Mental health and the Holiday Blues
Holly Bowyer, chair of the Suicide Prevention Task Force, talks about her role during a Great Bend Chamber coffee hosted by the Central Kansas Partnership in November. The “988” on her shirt is the emergency telephone number for suicide prevention. - photo by photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

According to the National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI), the holiday season has a negative impact on 64% of people with mental health issues. This time of year can be stressful for most people.

“High expectations, loneliness and stress can lead to the ‘Holiday Blues’ during the season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. In most cases symptoms are temporary, but they can be serious if they last for more than two weeks, leading to clinical anxiety and/or depression,” NAMI reports.

Holly Bowyer, chair of the Suicide Prevention Task Force with the local Central Kansas Partnership, encourages people to be aware that the approaching holidays aren’t necessarily a joyful time for everyone.

“This year has been extremely difficult for so many people in our community,” Bowyer said recently when Central Kansas Partnership hosted a Great Bend Chamber coffee. “There are so many struggles and people are really tired. I know there’s a lot of anger and depression and anxiety.”

She encourages everyone to think about their neighbors, coworkers and friends. “Just check on people,” she suggested. 

She quoted Kevin Hines, who attempted to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge when he was 19 years old, but survived. Today, Hines is a world-renowned mental health advocate, motivational speaker and author. The documentary, “Suicide – The Ripple Effect,” chronicles his personal journey and the ripple effect it has on those who have been impacted by his suicide attempt and his life’s work since.

 “Kevin Hines said it best – that if just one person in his entire trip to the Golden Gate Bridge would have asked him if he was okay, he never would have jumped,” Bowyer said. “So, (consider offering) a kind word, smiling, or asking how somebody is doing.

“Just have the encouraging word,” Bowyer said. “You know, you just never know what somebody’s dealing with.”

If you know somebody who is struggling, there are resources available, including the CKP website (see; The Center for Counseling and Consultation in Great Bend (; and the national “988” suicide and crisis lifeline. In addition to these, the local group Dropping 22 Inc. aims to reduce the mental health gap for veterans, the military community and first responders. The office is at 916 Williams St. in Great Bend. Call 620-786-0687 or email