WXXI AM News

Suicide

freeimages.com/Elvis Santana

So far this year, at least 158 members of law enforcement have died by suicide in the U.S. 

One group that tracks the statistics says police departments don't always report these deaths.

Veterans Outreach Center

Rochester’s Veterans Outreach Center has hired new staff and is stepping up its efforts to prevent suicides, executive director Laura Stradley said.

The center will find ways to connect veterans to a variety of health care and career services, even if they show no immediate signs of mental distress, said Stradley.

Some veterans end up disconnected from local or federal agencies, like the Department of Veterans Affairs, that are designed to support them, Stradley said.

Beth Adams/WXXI News

On a warm, sunny July morning in Parma Town Park, Connor Stevely is playing fetch with Ella Mae, a big, panting chocolate Lab.  Despite the increasingly intense sun, the dog never seems to tire of the game.

The Stevely family loves its pets – three dogs, a cat, and a hamster. But Ella Mae is special: She saved Connor's life on Dec. 2, 2017.

That's what Connor's mom, Diane Stevely, believes.

She and Connor’s younger sister, Morgan, had gone into town for a community Christmas party that night. Connor’s father, Greg, was at work.

JAMA; Oren Miron

A study published this week finds suicide rates among teens and young adults are accelerating across the country, and local clinicians say the Rochester area is no exception.

New research shows the number of children and teens visiting emergency rooms for suicidal thoughts and attempts to take their own lives has doubled between 2007 and 2015. Our guests discuss how to identify warning signs and help children who struggle with mental health issues. We also preview this year’s edition of the Reel Mind Film Series.

Our guests:

  • Melanie Funchess, director of community engagement for the Mental Health Association of Rochester
  • Dr. Larry Guttmacher, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and co-director of the Reel Mind Film Series
  • Dr. Eric Caine, M.D., former chair and professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Ruth Turner, chief of student support services and social emotional learning for the Rochester City School District
  • Gwennie von Einsiedel, special guest of the Reel Mind Film Series

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Today, Chacku Mathai is the CEO of the Mental Health Association of Rochester.

But at 15, he wanted to die.

Describing himself as an immigrant kid with dark skin in a largely white neighborhood, he said he felt misunderstood and targeted at school. He attempted suicide by overdosing on alcohol and other drugs.

Many American soldiers who attempt suicide have no prior mental health diagnosis, according to the most recent study to make use of data collected by the U.S. Army and the National Institute of Mental Health.  

The study, published Wednesday in the psychiatry journal of the American Medical Association, looked at anonymized records of more than 9,000 American soldiers who attempted suicide while on active duty. More than a third of them had not been diagnosed with a mental illness.

A simple phone call can reduce suicide risk

Jul 18, 2018
JAMA Psychiatry

The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show suicide rates continuing to climb nationwide. In New York, the CDC found that the rate has risen almost 30 percent since 1999.

People who have gone to the emergency room once for an attempted suicide are at high risk for attempting it again after their release.

Now, a study has shown a straightforward way of reducing that risk: calling those patients.

The recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have sparked concern among mental health advocates, who note that celebrity suicides can have a copycat impact on the general population.

Our guests discuss suicide from a range of angles, including the impact of loss on surviving family. In studio:

  • Bill Perun, suicide attempt survivor, past president of NAMI Rochester, vice president of NAMI NYS, member of the NAMI National Peer Council, and certified Peer Specialist for the New York Office of Mental Health
  • Carrie Andrews, survivor of suicide loss
  • Dr. Joe Vasile, M.D., psychiatrist, and president and CEO of the Greater Rochester Independent Practice Association (GRIPA)
  • Megan Clifford, LCSW-R, certified Mental Health First Aid instructor

WATCH: Suicide prevention

Jun 18, 2018

Suicide rates are rising across the U.S. and they are a leading cause of death in our country according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, what’s important to understand is that suicide can be prevented. At a time when many are still reeling from the recent deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, we examine what can be done to prevent future risk.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or know someone who is, please call the national suicide prevention hotline. That number is: 1-800-273-8255.

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