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October 5, 2013

Hundreds expected for suicide awareness event

(Continued)

“Awareness, education and talking openly about suicide is how we will save lives.”

Jerdo said there was a time when cancer and alcoholism were hidden and taboo subjects, too.

“Now people are no longer afraid to talk about these once-feared topics and know where to turn for help,” she said. “That is our hope with suicide. 

“It takes everyone to stand up and say that this is important.”

GRIM STATISTICS

Statistics continue to show that suicide is among the top 10 causes of death in the United States.

Among the entire population, someone dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes, according to data gathered by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Those numbers reflect the incidence of suicide in 2010, the latest data available.

“The highest suicide rate (18.6 per 100,000 people) was among people 45 to 64 years old,” the foundation website reports. 

“The second highest rate (17.6 per 100,000 people) occurred in those 85 years and older. Younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults. 

LIVES LOST

In 2010, adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 10.5 (per 100,000 people).

However, a spate of suicides by young people around the North Country over the past year or so has heightened concern and prompted a number of awareness events.

Among them was the Backpack Project, put on recently in Plattsburgh by the Clinton County Coalition to Prevent Suicide with the National Alliance on Mental Illness: Champlain Valley and Behavioral Health Services North.

Sixty-eight used backpacks displayed at the recent event represented 68 student deaths by suicide, bringing home the impact of so many lost lives.

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS

While mental illness contributes to the risk of suicide, the foundation clarifies that “the large majority of people with mental disorders or other suicide-risk factors do not engage in suicidal behavior.”

Risk factors do, however, cross economic, social, educational and religious boundaries.

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