Correspondent of the Day

Posted: Friday, September 5, 2014 10:30 pm We can all help prevent suicide Editor, Times-Dispatch: I read with sadness and frustration about three suicides recently reported in the Metro section. The news stories — “Fort Lee soldier shoots self, dies,” “W&M student found dead in apparent suicide” and “Augusta couple’s deaths seen as murder-suicide” add to the dismal suicide rate in our state. As a survivor of a Virginia suicide, I am compelled to share some important facts as we embark on National Suicide Prevention Week Sept. 8-14. In Virginia, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death. On average, one person dies by suicide every 9 hours in the state. More than twice as many people die by suicide in Virginia than by homicide. What can you do about this and why should you care? Approximately 90 percent of individuals who die by suicide were living with a mental illness at the time of their death. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. When applied to the 2012 U.S Census residential population estimate for Virginia, this figure translates to 1.7 million Virginians 18 and older. These are our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Mental illness does not discriminate by race, religion, gender or socio-economic status. We can stop the stigma attached to these chronic brain disorders and help our loved ones know that it is admirable and brave to seek help. Know the risk factors and warning signs for suicide and encourage your loved ones to call the National Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255) at any time — day or night....

Families who lost loved ones to suicide stress prevention, awareness efforts

BY TAMMIE SMITH Richmond Times-Dispatch | Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 10:30 pm Ren Bell said her sister, Lindsay Pollack, struggled for years with depression, but Bell said she never really understood the depth of her sister’s pain or how long she had dealt with it. Her sister killed herself in 2006. At the memorial service, Bell talked to some of her sister’s friends from middle school. Bell heard for the first time that her sister had talked back then, barely into adolescence, about being depressed. “That is why my big focus is awareness in the schools,” Bell said. “I feel like maybe if she had gotten help earlier on, if her friends had gone to an adult and said, ‘Hey, she is having these really serious thoughts and issues.’ … Kids tend to talk to each other and not to their parents about serious things. “I just feel like if she had earlier intervention, if she had gotten some therapy earlier on — that she was having these thoughts — that maybe she’d still be here today. Maybe it wouldn’t have gone down such a dark road, with drugs and alcohol and everything.” The highly publicized death this month of actor and comedian Robin Williams has focused attention on mental illness and suicide prevention. Williams was public about his battles with depression and substance abuse, but his suicide still shocked his family, friends and fans.But people who have lost loved ones to suicide know how insidious depression can be, how those suffering often self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, and how difficult it is to fathom that a loved...