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Awareness and openness can help prevent suicides


Through increased awareness, talking about suicide has gotten easier.

"It's just something that is out in the open as opposed to a hidden secret," said Dr. Laura Houser, a pediatrician with UW Health.

However, health officials say there is still more that can be done, as this week (Sept. 4-10) marks Suicide Prevention Week.

"For adolescents and young adults, suicide is the second leading cause of death," said Dr. Desire Christensen, a child psychiatrist at Aspirus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14% of all suicides make up the 10-24 age group, and that number has increased significantly in the last 15 years.

"It seems like kids who are younger than we might have previously thought of mental health problems in are having struggles so I would say that this is something that we should be thinking about in all ages," Dr. Houser said.

So how can we prevent the next one?

"Normalize talking about suicidal thinking will really help to decrease these numbers," Dr. Christensen said.

In addition, keeping an eye out for warning signs like sudden changes in mood, outward feelings of hopelessness, and anxiety.

If you spot someone that might get destructive, reach out for help.

"Reach out to other trusted providers or trusted adults," Dr. Houser said.

It's important to do so before that person becomes another statistic.

"I think when we lose people, it's that fear of being able to speak to someone about these thoughts so it's really important to have someone you feel comfortable just telling, because that's how you stay safe," Dr. Christensen said.

Reaching out also extends to emergency services and prevention hotlines like 988 and 741-741.

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