City Council has officially declared the week of September 10-16 as Suicide Prevention Week in South Pasadena. Val Uchendu, the Field Ambassador for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, spoke to the council and the public at the recent City Council meeting on Sept. 6, giving staggering statistics. He said, “suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the US between ages 10-34 and there are 44,000 suicides every year in the United States.”
Uchendu went on to state “suicide is a world, national and statewide concern; without glamorizing the statistics, every 12-13 minutes someone dies of suicide. It could be a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, child, a co-worker. In California alone every 2 hours one person dies of suicide and physicians, soldiers, health care professionals, and first responders are not excluded in this statistic. American Foundation of Suicide Prevention’s major goal is to reduce suicide by 20% by 2015; but an immediate goal is to be able to include research and education and outreach in removing the stigma.”
Uchendu explained that men die from suicide more than women and one reason is the stigma; men are less likely to seek treatment or talk about it. AFSP has programs in the schools and at the UC’s in place and, most importantly for survivors, they have programs for families to help them get through the process. Advocacy is an extremely important piece that AFSP is working on; how to push initiatives, such as AB 89, signed on September 1st by Governor Brown which allows for all psychologists to take a 6-hour class to assess and treat high risk individuals. 90% of suicides have a mental health issue that is usually undiagnosed and untreated. September 10th is worldwide Suicide Prevention Awareness Day.
There is no single cause to suicide. It most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition and undiagnosed depression is the leading cause. 50% of all suicides involve firearms.
Uchendu closed with a final message which is that we “ask someone if they are okay. If you notice a friend or co-worker, take a minute to ask them if they are okay.” He explained “signs of emotional suffering could be that someone you know stops taking care of themselves, isolates themselves, has unwarranted emotional outbursts, a change in personality, or negative outlook.” He encourages you to check in with them. Please if you notice someone in a dark place, if they seem hopeless, remove all dangerous items; guns, ropes, knives, pills. Uchendu closed by thanking the council saying “I am so glad that the city of South Pasadena has given this proclamation.”
To learn more visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website