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.