October 12, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Mental Health, Department of

ADMH Supports, Seeks to Spread Word about Suicide Prevention and Advocacy Efforts

MONTGOMERY – More Alabamians die from suicides than homicides every year. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, nationally, a person dies by suicide every 15 minutes. It claims more than 34,000 lives each year and is the 10th leading cause of death in the nation. Even more alarming is the estimate that a suicide attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. While there are several risk factors for suicide, research has shown that 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death, most often unrecognized or untreated depression.

The Alabama Department of Mental Health supports an increase in suicide awareness as essential in detecting suicidal behaviors, and preventing further suffering and loss of life. Research has shown that education, early intervention and treatment can significantly reduce suicide attempts and deaths. ADMH has been involved with the Alabama Suicide Prevention and Resource Coalition since its inception in 2001 and continues to be a viable force in implementing Alabama’s Suicide Prevention Plan. ADMH also has representation on the Advisory Council of the Alabama Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Known for their Out of the Darkness Walks, the AFSP is the leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research and education. Since 2000, it has invested millions of dollars in new studies, provided education and disseminated information through various methods. In fact, Out of the Darkness Community Walks are one of AFSP’s primary means of raising awareness and funding. The 2011 Out of the Darkness Community Walk campaign is in full swing, with more than 230 community walks in 49 states scheduled through the fall.

In Alabama, a walk has already taken place in Huntsville and additional walks are scheduled in October and November in Tuscaloosa, Daphne, Dothan and Birmingham. ADMH Commissioner Zelia Baugh is proud to share the department’s support of suicide prevention and education efforts, and will be giving the opening remarks at the Birmingham Out of Darkness Community Walk on November 6 from 1-2:30 p.m. at Heardmont Park. Baugh says, “Those who participate in Out of the Darkness Community Walks are increasing national awareness about depression and suicide, and providing support for survivors of suicide loss. Participants are also taking us all a step closer to making suicide prevention a national priority.”

Suicide is not restricted to one age group, cultural group or socio-economic status. While some suicides occur without any outward symptoms, most people who are suicidal do give warnings. Examples of warning signs include observable signs of deepening depression, increased alcohol and/or drug use, impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks, threatening suicide or expressing a strong wish to die, making a plan to die and accelerated rage or anger. Help for those who are feeling vulnerable or despondent, as well as those worried about someone who exhibits warning signs, can be found by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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RESOURCES

Information about Out of the Darkness Community Walks statewide can be found by visiting ADMH’s events calendar at www.mh.alabama.gov/COPI/EventsCalendarOctober2011.aspx.

Information about national and state statistics on suicide, as well as information about national Out of the Darkness Community Walks, can be found by visiting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website at www.afsp.org/.


  • For more information, visit http://mh.alabama.gov
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