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Suicide Prevention: What Works, What Doesn't?

Statistics show the annual age-adjusted suicide rate nationally is about 13 per 100,000 individuals, but more than 18 in New Hampshire. (pixabay-mohamedhassan)
Statistics show the annual age-adjusted suicide rate nationally is about 13 per 100,000 individuals, but more than 18 in New Hampshire. (pixabay-mohamedhassan)
October 25, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. – The stigma of mental illness often prevents families from discussing it, which sometimes can increase the chance of suicide.

That's why the state's annual suicide prevention conference next week is titled, It's OK to Talk About It.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported suicide rates in New Hampshire rose nearly 50 percent over a 17-year period – a statistic consistent with changes in suicide rates nationally.

Dennis Gillan, a suicide prevention advocate will speak at the conference next week. He became a suicide prevention advocate after losing two brothers to suicide.

"And what I'm trying to do is go upstream, and get people really comfortable talking about mental health,” he explains. “That's the goal, because when we get there the rates will change, and right now suicide is the 10th leading cause of death."

The conference will be held next Thursday at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord and is open to the public. Register online at naminh.org.

Gillan says men die by suicide three times more often than women, and notes that both of his brothers, who took their lives, were in their 20s, an age when people feel especially vulnerable as they transition from late adolescence to early adulthood.

In his talks across the country, Gillan says he's noticed that society is getting better at addressing the issue, with the realization that self-care is not selfish.

"I love this younger generation,” he stresses. “When I go to colleges, they're getting real comfortable saying, 'You know, I'm not doing so hot,' where my generation – I'm 55 and above – did not do a very good job of saying, ‘Hey, I'm not doing so well mentally.'

“The stigma, we're supposed to cowboy up, we got this, and a lot of times we don't have it."

New Hampshire has the 19th highest suicide rate in the country, but its small size also means it has a higher number of school counselors available for outreach.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NH