Stopping suicide 

Perhaps even more traumatic is losing that person through suicide.

That’s the topic of a Suicide Prevention Summit hosted in part by the Edmond Police Department. It will take place Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the University of Central Oklahoma Nigh Center, 100 N. University Drive in Edmond.

“We have seen an alarming number of suicides and attempted suicides,” said Maj. Steve Thompson, Edmond’s deputy chief of police. “This year we saw the deaths of three young people through suicide within a two-week period. Our goal with this summit is to get the word out to those who may be suicidal that taking your own life is not an option.”

Thompson said he hopes everyone from adolescents to adults will turn out and learn ways to potentially save a life.

“If you know someone you suspect might be thinking about suicide, we will equip you with the right tools to get them the help they need,” he added.

The summit focuses on several key topics, including how to recognize and respond to those in distress.

Participants will receive tool kits on youth suicide prevention, as well as other information citizens may need to help a loved one in crisis.

“I was at a low point in my life,” said Patrick, who asked that his real name not be used. “My job and relationship ended about the same time.

It wasn’t that I wanted to die; I just wanted the pain to stop.

“Luckily I had my faith and a great therapist who helped save my life. When you’re so far down, you’re not thinking clearly. Teaching friends and family how to recognize symptoms is definitely going to save lives.”

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., especially for young people between the ages of 15 and 24. The state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services reports that 15 percent of youth surveyed in Oklahoma indicate they have seriously considered suicide.

“It is important all Oklahomans are aware of this issue,” said agency Commissioner Terri White. “Unfortunately Oklahoma’s rate of death by suicide has always been high and we have seen a rise in these tragic incidents over the past year. It is, however, something we all can prevent. The key is raising awareness and educating the public. That’s why summits like this one in Edmond are so important.”

White said it is critical for people to know how to help.

“Always take suicidal comments seriously and listen intently, and let that person know you are concerned,” she said.

“Asking someone about the presence of suicidal thoughts opens up a conversation that may lead to a referral for help.”

Another Edmond institution is also raising suicide awareness. On Saturday, the University of Central Oklahoma will host a campus walk to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. For more information, phone 974-3346.

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Mark Beutler

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