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Remembering suicide victims, raising awareness about prevention efforts

October 04, 2018 11:16 PM

ALBANY - “Lights of Hope" ignited at the Corning Tower in Albany on Thursday evening. The ceremony was held to remember those who have died by suicide, and to raise awareness about prevention efforts.

Everyone who spoke at the event was personally affected by someone who died by suicide. 

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Brian Barr lives in Guilderland. He's been a social worker for years, so he was used to dealing with mental health issues and treatment.

"But it came very personal in 1984 when we lost our son Kevin,” Barr said. “He was the youngest of three and we lost him to suicide and that certainly shook us to our core."

Barr is now a member of the Albany County Suicide Prevention Task force, one of the numerous organizations looking to raise awareness and prevent deaths. Local advocates have also implemented a mobile crisis center and suicide prevention cell phone app.

These efforts are essential because suicide rates are on the rise. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that between 1999 and 2016 suicide rates increased in almost every states. 

The same is true in Albany County. The rate of suicide was up to 34 people in 2017 from 31 people in 2016.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy has lost two friends to suicide.

"After the first one I'm like, it's never going to happen again I'm gonna make sure I know everything and when it happened a second time I'm like, what am I doing wrong?” McCoy said. “What are the signs I'm not looking for?"

Some of those signs include:

  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression
  • Fatigue

But as advocate Nichele Darby discovered when her 18-year-old son took his own life, it can be difficult to distinguish those signs as being suicidal.

"The behaviors are so similar to just teenage hormonal changes and we find it kind of hard to determine which one is which,” Darby said. “So the only way to do it is to know your kid and the on the way to know your child is to just constantly ask questions."

If you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, you can find a list of local and national resources here.

Credits

Emily Burkhard

Copyright 2018 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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