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Suicide: The Second Leading Cause Of Non-Natural Death

Aired 3/6/12 on KPBS News.

Despite the number of recent murder-suicides in San Diego County, mental health professionals say suicide is preventable.

— Mental health professionals are advising San Diegans to put the number of recent murder-suicides in context. Experts say the number of suicides in the county has remained fairly constant over the last few years.

On average, there's a suicide each day in San Diego County. It's the second leading cause of non-natural death, behind drug overdoses.

Men have a much higher suicide rate than women. And the suicide rate for whites is more than twice that of any other ethnic group.

Dr. Ruth Kenzelmann heads up the county's Access and Crisis Line. It's a toll-free service staffed by mental health clinicians.

Dr. Kenzelmann said the line can be a lifesaver for people who are thinking of committing suicide, or for those who are concerned about someone else.

"People can call in if they're worried about somebody else, to get some ideas on how to handle it, how to talk to them, how to get them the resources that they may need," she said.

Kenzelmann pointed out crisis line staff can offer referrals to counseling, and drug and alcohol treatment.

She says the service gets about 90,000 calls each year.

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