The Herald Bulletin

September 10, 2013

Officials vow to combat suicides rates in Madison County

Increased awareness can help prevent deaths

By Traci L. Moyer
The Herald Bulletin

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ANDERSON — Susie Maier said everyone can take an active role in fighting the county’s suicide rate.

“I think this community is fantastic, but we have issues and this is one of them that we need to address,” said Maier, director of outpatient services for Aspire, Indiana Behavioral Health System. “These are preventable deaths.”

Maier said that in 2010, Madison County’s 22 suicides ranked it as the highest in east central Indiana. She said the 13-county region comprised about 30 percent of the state's suicides.

“The first thing I thought of when I heard that number was it is about the same as the number of kids in a classroom,” Maier said. “Those people were important and we did not do anything about it.”

According to records maintained by the Madison County Health Department, 20 people committed suicide in 2012. The most common methods reported to commit suicide are asphyxiation by hanging and gunshots wounds to the head. Four of the deaths for that year were committed between January and April.

This year, there have already been seven suicides for that same period of time.

On Tuesday, people around the world recognized the 11th annual World Suicide Prevention Day and the Madison County Suicide Prevention Coalition, chaired by Maier, announced plans to increase awareness and offer training to help combat the county’s suicide rates.

“I would love for us to be a suicide-free community,” said Maier. “Wouldn't that be wonderful?”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, nine out of 10 suicides are preventable. Officials with the Madison County Suicide Prevention Coalition said they plan to raise awareness of preventable suicides through a QPR for Suicide Prevention program.

Maier said QPR stands for question, persuade and response and is an educational program that will be taught across the region by certified trainers. The free public programs will offer new approaches to suicide prevention and will focus on role-playing scenarios. Maier said everyone should be aware of suicidal signs and be unafraid to talk with someone they fear may be suicidal.

Kim Rogers-Hatfield was one of a dozen people who attended an informal rally by the coalition at Citizens Plaza to kick off National Suicide Prevention Week in Anderson. She said she knew someone who had committed suicide in the county and wanted others to know how to help prevent a similar experience.

“People need to become more aware of suicide and recognize the signs,” she said.

Maier said that if awareness is increased, it will create opportunities for people to have conversations about suicide and help people to identify potential signs of suicide. She said people do not have to work in the health field to help someone who is thinking about suicide — anyone can save a life — and she wants to show them how.

In November, about 15 people will participate in the initial certification process needed to teach the QPR for Suicide Prevention program to the public. After these individuals have been certified, they will then begin to offer the free public programs in schools and locations around the county, Maier said.

“If it helps one person, it will all be worth it,” she said.

Like Traci L. Moyer on Facebook and follow her @ moyyer on Twitter, or call 648-4250.

Suicide Rates in Madison County: 2008 - 26 deaths 2009 - 24 deaths 2010 - 22 deaths 2011 - 24 deaths 2012 - 20 deaths 2013 - 7 deaths (January to April)