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Reducing the Stigma Surrounding Suicide

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Monday, December 19, 2011   

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The recent suicide of well-known Kansas City TV meteorologist Don Harman has many people shining a light on the growing national problem of clinical depression.

Jen Boyden, program director with the National Alliance on Mental Health of Greater Kansas City, says it is a serious mental health condition that, left untreated, often leads to suicide. She says 90 percent of those who take their own lives have a diagnosable or untreated mental health condition.

"Depression might not seem as severe an illness as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Depression can be debilitating and fatal, and lead to suicide. And we have a huge, huge suicide rate in the United States, and it's something that needs to be looked at and addressed, and talked about."

Boyden says if people says they are considering suicide, they need to receive immediate help. Other warning signs include giving away cherished possessions, expressing feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, getting one's personal or legal affairs in order, or isolation from friends and family.

Boyden says there also are support groups available for family and friends of suicide victims.

"When somebody is lost to suicide, it leaves those left behind in a mental health crisis themselves, because they are left with feelings of a different type of grief. They're often left asking themselves, 'What went wrong, what did I not see, what did I not do?' They're left with those kind of questions that can throw them into a mental health crisis, as well."

And contrary to popular belief, Boyden says, suicide attempts do not increase during the holidays but rather, peak in the fall. She says it's one of many myths about suicide that need to be dispelled.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (800-273-8255).




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