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. In Richmond, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has committed to starting a state chapter and has an Out of the Darkness Community walk on Sept. 13 at Deep Run Park.

Shannon Geary Weisleder. Manakin-Sabot.

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