Freeda Foreman's untimely death highlights importance of mental health

She was a professional boxer, a mother, a wife, and the daughter of the great George Foreman. It was reported this week that 42-year-old Freeda Foreman took her own life here in Houston. She was found in her home on Saturday. 

The death of the former athlete leaves you wondering, what could have gone wrong? Sometimes, we just never know. 

From 1999 to 2016, there was an increase in the number of suicides with a 19-30% increase in the state of Texas.

"You never know what people are dealing with personally," says author Tiffany A. Washington, "Which is why we need to pay attention to the warning signs."

"People try to hide these things because they don't want anyone to be concerned," says Dr. Erlanger Turner, clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Houston-Downtown. "But when they start to withdraw, maybe you notice increases in substance abuse, you want to make sure they get help." 

Many of those suffering with depression withdraw from loved ones and want to be left alone. Being persistent with checking in can help in breaking through the barrier.

"You want to make sure you maintain contact, especially if they've had previous bouts of depression," Washington says. "Keep that connection with them, talk to them, and make sure you understand exactly why their behavior is what it is." 

With the stigma surrounding suicide attempts as "attention-seeking", it's always safe to assume that a suicide threat is purposeful. 

"Most people are not seeking attention. When they say they want to kill themselves, take those threats seriously," said Dr. Turner. 

The National Suicide Hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you or a loved one is in danger of self-harm.