Family remembers son during National Suicide Prevention Week
COLUMBIA - In light of September being National Suicide Prevention month, many people are looking back at their personal experiences with suicide.
Stuart Eiken took his life when he was 17-years-old. His mother, Beth Eiken, said Stuart had a 100-watt smile.
"He always had a smile on his face," Eiken said. "He was always happy."
At around age 13, Beth said she started seeing changes in her son.
"He wasn't as happy, and we had moved from our older house to our newer house," she said. "That whole thing really upset him. He didn't like change. He had a hard time with that and I'm not sure why."
Beth said although she knew things were changing with Stuart, she was not extremely informed on how to handle it, which is one reason his family started The Stuart B. Eiken Foundation in 2010. It was in his honor and in hopes to inform others what Beth said she wishes she knew when Stuart was struggling.
She said she wants to educate people and youth on warning signs and how to address them.
Scott Perkins, project director at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, stressed the importance of educating people on how to handle situations involving someone who may be suicidal.
Perkins holds training sessions all through the year to train people.
He said Missouri might have a higher ranking than other states because of the rural population. He Perkins said it is more difficult for people to get help in rural areas compared to urban.
He also said the status of the economy plays a roll into suicide levels.
"If someone loses their job a lot of time they're losing their supports whether it's their co-workers, friends they encounter everyday, they might have an employee assistance program and have health insurance," Perkins said.
He said taking those things out of someone's life puts them more at risk.
According to the University of Missouri-St. Louis, suicide is the third leading cause of death for young adults ages 15-24.
The American Association of Suicidology ranked Missouri as the 16th highest for suicide in 2011.
If you or anyone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).