Weekly Feature

2014-09-10 / Editorial

Society must assist in suicide prevention

Bee Editorial

I n light of the recent death of comedian Robin Williams, the issues of depression, mental health and suicide have received greater attention both in the media and during conversations at the dinner table. If anything good can come out of the tragedy, it’s that people are more willing to discuss topics that too often get swept under the rug.

World Suicide Prevention Day is scheduled for today, Wednesday, Sept. 10. The awareness day is held every year to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. The Electric Tower, Peace Bridge and Niagara Falls will all be lit yellow during the evening to bring light to the issue.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated one million people per year die by suicide. That translates to a death every 40 seconds, or about 3,000 every day. Another startling statistic from the WHO is that there are 20 people who have a failed suicide attempt for every one that is successful at a rate of approximately one every three seconds.

“It really is everybody’s business to care for those around us in crisis. We want to create a community where it’s OK to ask,” said Olivia Retallack, coordinator of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Erie County.

The coalition, which was established in 2012, uses a “Tough Enough to Talk” campaign aimed to reach a broad range of people from men, women, youth to children. Retallack said there is a general high rate of suicide in Erie County, and it echoes the national trend of middle-aged men.

“When our coalition formed, it decided to decrease suicide across all populations,” Retallack said.

The coalition should be commended for the work they’re doing because it’s making a difference and helping people who really need the assistance. It’s unfortunate that so many depressed people feel like they have no one to turn to and they often fight their inner demons in silence.

We as a society have an opportunity to assist in suicide prevention. World Suicide Prevention Day is part of National Suicide Prevention Week, with events both preceding and following it across Erie County. The week concludes with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at Delaware Park in Buffalo.

The crisis services hotline can be reached at 834-3131, and the national suicide prevention lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For more information on the coalition, contact Retallack at 834-2310, ext. 4421, or go to www.suicidepreventionecny.org.

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