New England

The Importance of Suicide Awareness in Preventing Tragedy

With the recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, advocates and health officials want people to realize there are resources for those in need.

"Suicide stays with a family for forever," said Steve Mongeau.

The devastating ripple effect of suicide has touched Mongeau's life many times.

"It was my sister, Kathy, ending her life by suicide that clearly had the most traumatic impact on my life," he said.

Mongeau says for him and his family, there was a lot of guilt, confusion and emptiness.

"You go through the emotional roller coaster, and I did, as well, of 'How could I have not seen this coming,' and then you're like, 'How could you have done this?'" Mongeau said. "You get mad, and then you're mad at yourself for being mad."

And according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of suicides are rising nationwide.

In New England, suicide rates rose significantly between 1999 and 2016.

"Even though we're seeing these increased rates, we do have treatments that have been developed that are effective for anxiety, for depression, for mental health conditions that put people at risk for suicide," said Dr. Todd Farchione, a clinical researcher at Boston University.

But Farchione says even though the treatments are improving, getting someone help can be the most difficult part.

"It's incredibly difficult to identify who is likely to commit suicide," said Farchione.

For Mongeau, volunteering for and eventually becoming the executive director of non-profit suicide prevention group "Samaritans, Inc." has been his way of trying to help others avoid the pain his family has had to endure.

"The reward for us here is when someone calls to pretty much say goodbye, and two hours later, they agree to talk to us again tomorrow," he said.

If you need to speak with someone or have a loved one who needs help, you can call or text the Samaritans' 24-hour helpline at 1-877-870-HOPE. That's 1-877-870-4673.

The National Institute of Mental Health also has information on suicide prevention. People in crisis can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting "Home" to 741741.

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