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Always Preventable: Suicide Awareness Month in Texas

PHOTO: Often, the focus is on adolescent depression and suicide risks. But recently, there's been an increase in suicides among middle-aged Americans, and Texas is no exception. Photo credit: Darcy Adelaide.
PHOTO: Often, the focus is on adolescent depression and suicide risks. But recently, there's been an increase in suicides among middle-aged Americans, and Texas is no exception. Photo credit: Darcy Adelaide.
September 3, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas - September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and according to mental health experts, taking the steps to possibly save someone's life does not require any special skills or training. Melissa Heinen, who coordinates suicide prevention services, said people who are contemplating ending their own lives often speak out - and when they do, friends, family and neighbors need to listen and take action.

"It doesn't have to be rocket science," she said. "You don't have to follow this long flow chart. If you just don't feel something's right with someone, ask them - and listen to their answers, and try to connect them to resources."

There are around 2,500 suicides in Texas each year.

While young people are always at heightened risk of suicide, Heinen said elderly white men are at the greatest risk, and lately there has been a troublesome increase in suicides among middle-aged Americans - some possibly linked to the down economy of recent years.

"Some theories out there blame the economic recession and people losing their jobs and having difficulties, especially among the male adult population," she said. "But rarely is it just one thing; it's often a combination of a lot of things happening in a person's life."

Nationally, the suicide rate among people ages 35 to 64 increased by nearly 30 percent between 1999 and 2010.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

More information is available from the State of Texas at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mhsa/suicide/Suicide-Prevention.aspx and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6217a1.htm.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX