E. Texas mental health experts encourage education during Suicide Prevention Week

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - We're well into National Suicide Prevention Week and mental health experts say that education and awareness are key to prevention and treatment.

Nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide each year. During this week experts are urging the community learn more about suicide in order to recognize potential warning signs before it's too late.

"Telling people where they can get help, letting them know the causes of depression before they move from depression to suicide," said Dr. David Lawson, Graduate Counseling Programs, SFA.

Experts say that stressful life events and depression can be to main factors that lead to suicide.

"Feeling helpless, hopeless, they are isolating themselves, they've had suicidal ideation, they are thinking about suicide," said Debra Burton, Licensed Counselor.

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year-olds.  Experts say that while males are more successful in their attempts, females are more prone to suicidal thoughts.

"Really there is not an age, we have young people who've killed themselves and older people, there is just no age," said Burton.

Counselor Dr. Debra Burton says she works with her patients using a no harm contract to help them identify their risk factors and teach them how avoid self-harm.

"We have them first indentify what are you warning signs what thoughts do you have, what situations do you find yourself in that you're at risk of hurting yourself. We look at what you can do, what can you do to distract yourself," said Burton.

A major warning sign to look for is when an individual has a plan in place; they urge friends and family to contact a local physician or crisis hot line.

Experts encourage coping strategies like music, exercise and socializing with others as a part of a safety plan for those with thoughts of suicide.

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