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KCHD: September Is Suicide Prevention Month

Kent County Seal
Kent County

September is suicide prevention month and the Kent County Health Department wants to make sure residents know help is available.  The goal: to prevent another lost life. 

“We have seen an increase in our 19 and under age group. We know that the roots of suicide are depression and anxiety and we are seeing those symptoms more in some of our young people.”

That’s Kent County Health Official, Barbara Hawkins Palmer, Executive Director of Healthy Kent.  The County has seen 47 suicides so far this year.  Six of those who died were 19 years old or younger, the same number of suicides for that age group in “all” of 2014. 

Hawkins Palmer says there are signs to look out for, like if someone writes or talks about death or dying, or they act differently… and she says there might be  ways to help, though it could be tough.

“That’s why when we notice someone acting differently we need to ask.  Are they thinking about killing themselves; it’s a hard thing to say , it’s a hard thing to ask someone, but honestly, it can save a life. Because that’s often times that’s all they need to do to work through this, because they’ve pushed it down so far, that, yeah, I am thinking about that, and then to ask further about what is your plan and how can we help get you help.”

She adds if you think someone is considering suicide, you should stay with them and call 9-1-1 or take the person to the nearest emergency room for professional help.  The national suicide prevention hotline is available 24 hours at 1-800-273-TALK.  That call can also connect you to local resources. 

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.