Suicide Statistics Lead to Formation of Support Groups

Published 10/04 2013 09:36PM

Updated 10/05 2013 06:58PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) St. Joseph police are responding to more calls on suicide attempts.

"During tough economic times, people have challenging circumstances, relationships, any kind of stressful situation," said Anita Jolly, with the Breaking the Silence Suicide Prevention Coalition.

In 2012, there were 14 recorded suicides in Buchanan County. However, the actual number could be much higher.

"Many situations that might be apparent suicides might not be ruled that way by the coroner," Jolly said. "They may be under investigation. If it was a vehicle accident, it could have just been ruled an accident when in actuality it could have been a suicide."

In the schools, professionals are concerned about the rate of youth suicides.

"They just think it's forever and things get so stressful and bad sometimes," said Jean West, a social worker at Lafayette High School. "But, that's just a small portion of life and they have so much future ahead of them that they need to work towards."

Surveys of St. Joseph 6th-12th graders shows more than ten percent have thought about suicide and seven percent have actually made a plan to carry it out. West says kids face big pressures.

"They want to perform academically," she said. "They want to be able to go to college to do well on their ACT. They may live in a single family, They may be homeless. They may be on their own. There's lots of kids we have here who work to pay the bills for their family."

The St. Joseph Youth Alliance is working with the suicide coalition, operating a support group for teens who have considered suicide and another for their parents.

"It's such a scary proposition," West said. "We all want to be a part of the solution, but if somebody called you and started talking about it, you'd be fearful you weren't providing the proper information."

Part of the challenge is overcoming the stigma of suicide.

"Anytime you have a physical health concern, people say I'm going to the doctor know I have to get this checked out," Jolly said. "When it's related to mental health, it's just much more stigmatizing and people think, oh, there's something wrong with you."

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