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Suicide Prevention Becomes Priority As Number Of Deaths Increases

Aired 5/22/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:

Stan Collins, suicide-prevention consultant, San Diego County Prevention Action Plan

Liz Kingsbury, a doctor of psychology, SDSU's Counseling & Psychological Services

Aired 5/22/14 on KPBS News.

A bill that would require mental health professionals to have suicide-prevention training has passed the California Assembly.

Suicide has emerged as one of the leading causes of non-natural death in the United States, according to the American Journal of Public Health.

Figures for California and San Diego County follow those national statistics. For example, in 2009, more Californians died from suicide (3,760) than from car crashes (2,715). And in 2012, 413 people committed suicide San Diego County, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office. That was the highest number recorded in 24 years.

With these staggering numbers as a backdrop, legislation that would require mental health professionals to have suicide-prevention training has passed the California Assembly.

Under Assembly Bill 2198, new mental health professionals would be required to have 15 hours of suicide-prevention training and those already licensed would have to complete six hours of continuing education.

Stan Collins, with the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council, thinks the legislation is a good idea.

“Mental health providers aren’t always as prepared to deal with someone at risk for suicide as much as they should be," Collins said. "And unfortunately, suicide is still one of those topics that is uncomfortable, that people try to avoid.”

One study suggests training primary care doctors in suicide prevention might be a better move. That’s because most Americans who’ve committed suicide saw a doctor in the year prior to their death.

Suicide-Prevention Resources

The It's Up to Us campaign is aimed at empowering San Diegans to talk openly about mental illness and seek help.

SDSU: Go here for high-risk indicators.

Finding Help: Access & Crisis Line (888) 724-7240.

San Diego Crisis team: (800) 479-3339

SDSU Counseling & Psychological Services: (619) 594-5220.

Volunteer to help in your community.

Video

SDSU: What Students Are Really Going Through

Above: What Students Are Really Going Through

KPBS's Maureen Cavanaugh, Patty Lane and Peggy Pico contributed to the Midday and Evening Edition segments of this story.

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