Missouri Observes World Suicide Prevention Day

6 years 10 months 3 days ago September 16, 2010 Sep 16, 2010 Thursday, September 16 2010 Thursday, September 16, 2010 9:40:40 AM CDT in News
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COLUMBIA- World Suicide Prevention Day comes at the end of Suicide Prevention Week. It's an issue that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) said is very serious in Missouri. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, about 700 Missourians commit suicide every year, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the state.

Suicide is even more common in young people. In the state, it is the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 15-24 and suicides in ages 10-24 have increased by 8 percent.

"We tend to see more suicides in young people because of all the turmoil that goes on," said Cindy Keele, Executive Director of NAMI Missouri.

"They don't have the life experience to know that they are going to feel better if they just wait awhile. Suicide is a long term solution to a short term problem" she said.

University of Missouri Junior, Will Wilson, knows firsthand what it's like to help a friend contemplating taking his life.

"We just took him around, did some of his favorite things to do. We saw a bunch of people we knew and just kinda reminded him to take a look at the simple things and everything he has to look forward to," he said. "He would say 'oh that looks like a good movie' and we would say, 'yeah, you wouldn't get to see it if you weren't here.'"

Keele says anyone thinking of harming themselves should tell someone, and those people need to listen.

"We find that most people who have considered suicide talked about it to friends or relatives and that kind of talk should be taken very seriously," she said.

Keele explains that there is a strong relationship between suicides and mental illness.

"There is a significant impact when a person has a mental illness.  For example, in bi-polar disorder as well as serious depression, the suicide rate is about 12 percent and that is much higher than the general population. So if you have one of these illnesses and especially if you are not in treatment, you are at a high risk," she said.

NAMI offers many programs to help prevent suicide. One program is Family-to-Family. It is a free 12 week course for family and friends of individuals with serious mental illness. Keele says one of the goals of the programs is to open the lines of communication which helps decrease the risk of suicide.

NAMI also has a "Warm Line." It's a number for people who are upset or distressed to call and talk to someone.

Keele also points out that while many suicides are preventable, some are not. She explains that serious mental illnesses can account for some suicides, and those types of suicides can be difficult to prevent.  "Because some loved ones can feel so guilty, and there's nothing they could have done," she said.

Wilson's just glad he was successful in helping his friend. "A lot of times it just takes a couple close people to kinda remind you how important they are and how important life is."






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