Escondido, CA

Raising awareness about suicide

~ Guest Opinion

The Suicide Prevention Council on Wednesday issued its annual report, which shows the suicide rate in San Diego County held steady in 2015 while calls for help went up.

This is encouraging news, and I am pleased to join the council in raising awareness about suicide prevention and the help that is available for anyone who needs it.

As chairman of the Suicide Prevention Working Group, I have participated in many of the council’s meetings and have seen the dedication, intelligence and experience that committee members bring to the panel.

In its 2016 report, the council drilled in on high-risk populations, including youth who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning; Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and military service members and veterans.

The report states that LGBTQ youth are up to seven times more likely to have attempted suicide than their non- LGBTQ peers.

For Native Americans and Alaska Natives from 10 to 34 years of age, suicide is the second-leading cause of death, the report states.

And for members of our military and military veterans, the suicide rate is nearly 58 per 100,000. That well exceeds the national statistic of 40 suicides per 100,000 people or San Diego County’s rate of 13.2 suicides per 100,000 people.

A bright spot among these dark statistics is that San Diegans are doing more to get help.

Calls to the Access & Crisis hotline are on the rise and visits to the It’s Up to Us suicide prevention Web site have increased by 57 percent.

I salute the council for doing so much to raise awareness about suicide prevention in our county. And I appreciate the Board of Supervisors and the county’s administration for making greater-than-ever investments in behavioral health services this year.

But beyond the meeting rooms, and our suicide-prevention campaigns on print, broadcast and social media, it is up to us — individuals, friends, loved ones and coworkers — to be a part of the solution.

By knowing the signs and speaking up, any one of us could save a life.

Call the Access & Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240 or visit the It’s Up to Us, San Diego Web site at

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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