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Teen suicide

PinkDome gets serious about a subject that really is no laughing matter: Teen suicide.

Texas is taking a new step to combat suicide, a serious public health problem.

Jeannine Von Stultz, psychologist and director of mental health services for Bexar County’s Juvenile Probation Department, says many young people who don’t intend to go through with suicide still end up dying as they cry out for help.

“This is an urgent need. It’s a crisis. And they’re trying to do whatever they can to reach out,” Von Stultz said.

Each day in Texas an average of six people take their own lives. For people between the ages of 15 to 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death behind car accidents and homicides.

“What we’re concerned about is that we’re seeing more lethal methods being used. So kids used to take pills. Now we’re seeing higher rates of children hanging themselves,” Von Stultz said.

Now the Texas Suicide Prevention Council and Mental Health America in Texas have launched a Web site, www.texassuicideprevention.org, to help educate Texans about suicide warning signs and how to help someone in a crisis.

The Web site is a tool for parents, teachers, counselors, and in many cases, individuals who are suicidal and may use the Internet to look for help.

“The information that’s provided is downloadable. So you print it out and then disseminate it,” Von Stultz said. “If you are a local agency or a school or a doctor’s office — it’s accessible to everybody.”

Part of a national strategy put in place in 1999 by then-Surgeon General David Satcher, the site is bilingual and, according to mental health professionals, long overdue.

I consider myself exceptionally lucky that I have had far less personal contact with suicide than PD, who writes very movingly about the people he knew who killed themselves. Take a moment to read what PD has to say, then go visit www.texassuicideprevention.org and be better prepared to confront this issue.

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