Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

September 12, 2010

Resources available for suicide prevention

ASHLAND — There are many reasons for Kentuckians to educate themselves about suicide:

‰Kentucky’s suicide death rate is the 12th highest in the United States.

‰Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Kentuckians 15 to 34.

‰The elderly in Kentucky have a higher suicide death rate than the national average.

This week was the perfect time to talk about suicide: Friday was World Suicide Prevention Day and the days preceding and following Friday made up the 36th annual National Suicide Prevention Week.

The Tri-State has several resources related to suicide.

Paula Rymer is a social worker in Ashland who is an organizer of the local American Society of Suicide Prevention Walk. The fifth annual walk is scheduled for Oct. 16 at Greenbo Lake State Resort Park. Registration will begin at 3:30 p.m. and the walk will begin at 5 p.m. Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit suicide research. Rymer also is connected to a local grief support group for parents who have lost children, not just to suicide but because of any situation. She also works with a suicide survivors group, which meets on an occasional basis.

“The walk is a time for survivors and family of deceased to speak,” she said, adding on the day of the walk, there will be a variety of speakers and musicians performing as well as a short memorial service.

“A lot of people come and walk to stand up for their loved ones because they’ve been through a lot,” Rymer said, pointing out depression is a secondary symptom to panic attacks and other common emotional problems, and depression can deepen, sometimes leading to thoughts of suicide.

Rebecca Bauder, regional crisis services coordinator at Pathways in Ashland, agreed, adding statistics show 80 percent of people who take their lives are suffering from depression.

Bauder said people who are at risk for suicide usually exhibit verbal, behavioral and situational clues.

Verbal clues include comments they make, such as, “I would be better off dead” and “I’m tired; I don’t want to go on anymore.” They also could express concern that they’ve become a burden to their family.

“Sometimes they can be very direct and tell you they’ve decided to end it all,” Bauder said.

Behavioral clues include stockpiling medication, a sudden interest or disinterest in religion, a relapse into alcohol or drug use, making funeral plans, putting personal affairs in order, giving away prized possessions and heightened emotional reactions.

Situational clues include major life events, such as a recent breakup in a romantic relationship.

Bauder said she would advise anyone who senses a friend or family member is considering suicide to be direct with that person about their feelings and help that person get help.

She also advises anyone who is considering suicide to reach out to a friend or family member and know there’s help in the area.

Pathways offers a 24-hour hotline staffed with at least two health-care professionals. That number is (800) 562-8909. There also is a national help line — (800) suicide.

Both Rymer and Bauder are pleased some of their lobbying efforts paid off: the state recently passed a bill requiring every Kentucky educator to be trained in recognizing signs of suicide and steps to prevent it.

“There is still such a stigma attached to mental health issues,” Bauder said. “People think it’s a sign of weakness, but it’s not. Suicide is a treatable medical condition.”

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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