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NH Emphasizes Peer-to-Peer Interaction to Prevent Suicide

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and increased 25 percent from 1999 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Engin_Akyurt/Pixabay)
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and increased 25 percent from 1999 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Engin_Akyurt/Pixabay)
January 24, 2019

CONCORD, N.H. – Suicide rates for individuals younger than 24 have spiked in New Hampshire, and state mental health experts are sharing a firsthand account to reach young people who might be vulnerable.

Screenings of the film "Suicide: The Ripple Effect" are part of a mission to help reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts.

Research shows that risk factors in New Hampshire include a higher-than-average number of gun users, long winters and a lack of resources, especially in the northern part of the state.

Kailene Jones, a young adult trainer with the state's North Country Health Consortium, says suicide is a state epidemic and needs more attention.

"Sometimes it's not, like, right in your face and you have to ask the question,” she stresses. “When somebody's depressed or somebody is angry or somebody's doing something that is not normal, you have to speak up and you have to ask, 'Are you thinking of hurting yourself?'"

The documentary film highlights the story of Kevin Hines, who survived an attempt to take his own life by jumping from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge at the age of 19 and is now a mental health advocate.

Suicide rates rose nearly 50 percent in New Hampshire from 2006 to 2017, according to a government study released last year.

Jones says teens and young adults in the 15-to-24-year-old age group are in a high-risk transition period during high school, through college and into early adulthood, and sharing personal stories of survival and recovery can help them.

"I feel like people the same age just connect a little better, and they understand each other a little better, and for someone to tell another person, 'Yes, I've been where you are and I know how it feels,'" she states.

The number of suicides by teens and young adults in New Hampshire still is less than some older adult age groups, but more than tripled from 2006 to 2017, the largest increase among all groups.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NH