Health and Family Services Cabinet
Governor Proclaims September Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month
Editor’s Note: This press release contains updated information regarding statewide events planned in honor of the observance.
Governor Ernie Fletcher has proclaimed September Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month in Kentucky, with many events planned statewide to educate and inform Kentuckians about the impact of suicide on the commonwealth.
“Kentucky has the 12th highest rate of suicide in the nation,” said Governor Fletcher. “The impact of suicide on our citizens – both victims and survivors – is tragic. Learning to talk openly and honestly about suicide and educating ourselves about prevention can preserve our state’s future and ensure good mental health for all of our citizens.”
Many events will take place during National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 10-16. The observance was designed to raise awareness about the dangers of suicide and to increase prevention efforts across the nation. Events are planned to inform Kentuckians about the prevalence of suicide, educate about prevention, and reduce suicide rates in the state.
“Awareness and knowledge are the most powerful tools we have in curbing suicide rates,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “I want to encourage more Kentuckians to educate themselves about suicide and get involved in prevention efforts. Far too many Kentuckians have fallen victim or lost a loved one to this tragedy.”
According to the Department for Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 502 suicide deaths have occurred in the state per year since 1981. In 2003, suicide deaths outnumbered homicide deaths 3 to 1. In Kentucky, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people age 15 to 34; third for people age 10 to 14; and fourth for those age 35 to 54.
"Experts believe most suicidal individuals do not want to die, they just want to end the pain they are experiencing,” said Jason Padgett, the state’s suicide prevention coordinator. “According to the American Association of Suicidology, when suicidal intent or risk is detected early, lives can be saved,”
Warning signs a person may be considering suicide include when someone:
· Threatens to hurt or kill him/herself, or talks of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
· Looks for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills or other means
· Talks or writes about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
· Exhibits hopelessness, rage, uncontrolled anger or seeks revenge
· Acts reckless or engages in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
· Feels trapped, like there’s no way out
· Increases alcohol or drug use
· Withdraws from friends, family and society
· Exhibits anxiety or agitation
· Is unable to sleep or sleeps all the time
· Experiences dramatic mood changes
· Says there is no reason for living; no sense of purpose in life
If someone exhibits these signs, he or she needs immediate help. A concerned friend or family member can take action by contacting a mental health professional or by calling 800-273-TALK (8255) for a referral. For more information on suicide prevention, visit the Kentucky Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation’s Web site at http://mhmr.ky.gov/mhsas/kspg.asp; or contact Jason Padgett at (502)564-4456 or Jason.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Events for Suicide Prevention Awareness in Kentucky
Local proclamation of Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month and candlelight vigil followed by the Lee Eric Drake Foundation Concert, 5-10 p.m., Sept. 7, Bowling Green Fountain Square Park. Contact Evelyn Libe at (270) 901-5000, ext. 1256, or e-mail email@example.com; Katie Scheuer at (270) 586-8826 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Kelly Bush at (615) 355-2299 or Kelly.Bush@leeericdrake.com.
Northern Kentucky National Suicide Prevention Week Event, 2 p.m., Sept. 10, Campbell County Cooperative Extension Office, 3500 Alexandria Pike, Highland Heights. Contact Denis Walsh at (859) 578-3204 or email@example.com; or Sue Davis at (859) 491-0089 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Louisville Suicide Prevention Week Event, 2-5:30 p.m., Sept.10, Westport Road Church of Christ, 4500 Westport Road, Louisville. Contact Micheal McFarland at (502) 544-7663 or email@example.com; or Dr. Julia Richerson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suicide Prevention: It’s Everybody’s Business, 10 a.m. to noon, Sept. 15, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Frankfort. The program will feature several speakers discussing suicide prevention efforts in Kentucky. Contact Jason Padgett at (502) 564-4456 or email@example.com.
Out of the Darkness Community Walk 5K, 4 p.m., Sept. 30, Ashland Central Park. Contact Paula K. Rymer at (606) 836-7966 or firstname.lastname@example.org.