In our country, one person dies by suicide every 15 minutes.
In Kansas, one person dies by suicide every day.
In Douglas County, 10 people died by suicide during the first five months of this year.
“Suicide prevention starts with people being kind to each other, people paying attention to each other and with people being able to ask for help when they need it,” said Marcia Epstein, director of Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence and chair of the state’s Suicide Prevention Committee.
As part of National Suicide Prevention Week, Headquarters Counseling Center and Lawrence Memorial Hospital sponsored a suicide prevention seminar Wednesday night at the hospital. About 30 people attended the seminar that was presented by David Litts, of the National Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
He went over risk factors, warning signs and what to do if someone is contemplating suicide.
“Suicide is preventable,” he said. “If people would equip themselves — similar to the way we’ve taught people to do CPR and Heimlich maneuvers — they can detect people who are at risk for suicide and they as an individual can intervene by asking them directly, ‘Have you been thinking about suicide?’”
It’s the hardest question to ask, he said, but it can save a life.
During the presentation, he presented statistics, such as:
• White males, 85 and older, have the highest suicide rate of any group in the country. But, he emphasized, suicide doesn’t discriminate.
• One million people attempt suicide each year, and 500,000 are hospitalized.
• Eight million people seriously think about taking their life each year.
For more information on suicide prevention, contact Headquarters Counseling Center at www.hqcc.lawrence.ks.us or 841-2345, which is a 24/7 hotline.
JOIN THE CAUSE
• International Suicide Prevention Day is Friday. Everyone is encouraged to light a candle near a window at 8 p.m. to show support for suicide prevention, to remember a lost loved one, and for survivors of suicide.
• Headquarters Counseling Center is having its third annual Poker Run called “Life Support Ride” on Sunday. Registration begins at 11 a.m. and the ride starts at noon from Biemer’s BBQ, 2120 W. Ninth St. Stops include: Helen’s Hilltop in Tonganoxie, High Noon Saloon in Leavenworth, Kobi’s in Bonner Springs, and Johnny’s Tavern. Suggested donation is $20 for first poker hand, and $5 each extra hand. No pre-registration required.
• Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center offers a 12-hour Mental Health First Aid course over four weeks, and it is open to anyone. The first class covers suicide prevention. The cost is $25 and includes a manual and snacks. Classes are from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the second floor of Bert Nash, 200 Maine. Classes have been scheduled for: Oct. 4, 11, 18 and 25; and Nov. 1, 8, 15 and 22. To sign up or for more information, contact Lauren Greib at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 830-1837. I am currently taking this class and plan to post more about suicide prevention this weekend.