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Carroll County commissioners implore community to stay vigilant, help fellow citizens around holidays

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners put together one last open session before the end of the year, and talked about wanting county citizens to keep an eye on each other as the start of 2021 grows closer.

“These are challenging times,” said Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, the board’s incoming president beginning in January. “And it is, ‘If you see something, say something, and do something.’ Not necessarily on Facebook or social media. Because we don’t need more stuff being posted that is just going to bring folks down. You know, let’s take care of each other.”

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Rothstein said he learned prior to their Tuesday meeting that Carroll County has had 16 homeless deaths in the calendar year, according to information from the county’s Department of Citizen Services.

“So if you’ve got the opportunity to reach out and take of somebody, please do,” Rothstein said.

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Suicides rates decreased in 2019 across the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reached a level not seen for more than a decade. And while the COVID-19 pandemic could make this year the one with the highest recorded death rate, the early data suggests no change to the suicide rate, according to Newsweek.

Still, county officials want Carroll’s citizens to take note if they see people in any sort of distress.

“Even though the holiday season is very festive for most people and they have a wonderful time, there’s a lot people out there that suffer from depression,” said Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4. “I know it first-hand. I’ve recovered from it. But I know there’s a lot of people out there who have not only lost loved ones unexpectedly from the COVID pandemic, but the opioid epidemic and a whole host of other things. And I know it’s a very trying time for a lot of people out there, so if you know someone who has lost a loved one over this year, please be there for them, talk to them and let them know that they are loved and supported.”

Bouchat said suicide rates tend to spike after a holiday season, although a 2013 online article on the CDC’s website called that idea a “long perpetuated myth.” The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics from that article showed suicide rates at their lowest in December, but shows peaks in the spring and fall. Still, suicide is the country’s 10th leading cause of death according to the NCHS.

“Any help we as fellow citizens can offer our friends and neighbors and family, please step up to the plate and do so,” Bouchat said. “Because it’s going to be a very trying time for a lot of people.”

Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said he agreed with Rothstein’s reference to people using social media but noted that it’s unlikely to stop anytime soon.

“We keep seeing knuckleheads out there, some elected knuckleheads that are putting just ridiculous cartoons out there,” Wantz said. “But you know what? Comedy relief, that’s what I call them. Luckily not many people pay attention to the absurdity, which is a good thing.”

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