Soldier's suicide spawns community outreach - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Soldier's suicide spawns community outreach

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - This week's loss of a soldier to suicide at the Guam National Readiness Center in Barrigada has the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse's Prevention and Training Branch reaching out to the community. Supervisor Bobbie Benavente says it's a sad time on Guam to hear that we lost another one of our community members - one of our soldiers to suicide.

Benavente adds this tragedy calls upon all of us to be carefully observant and be more knowledgeable about how the people around us are doing.  We can learn how we each can be trained to become suicide prevention caregivers - "It is possible to stop suicide and suicide attempts on Guam. To do this, we must each reach out for help when we ourselves feel helpless, hopeless and overwhelmed, and also help others who appear to be troubled and in need of support.  We, together, can stop suicide."

Just last week Benavente and her staff along with other community partners hosted the  2012 suicide prevention month forum  this forum was open to the community  and was aimed at bringing  together key stakeholders - to include suicide prevention experts and community members - to discuss how Guam's people can build  a suicide-safer island.

The keynote speaker was Senator Judi Won Pat, who lost her husband to suicide. "Nobody really likes to talk about suicide, but if suicide rates are to drop we must," she stated. "We cannot ignore or be complacent about the growing incidences on our island."

On Guam, the numbers are startling: it's estimated that we lose someone to suicide at a rate of one every two weeks. "Guam and the Micronesia region have some of the highest suicide rates in the world, especially among youth and young adults. The loss of so many of your young men and women to suicide is a such disturbing fact considering it that suicide is one of the most preventable causes of death," said Benavente.

According to Mental Health, it's our inherent responsibility to be involved in suicide prevention. The agency recommends. Being aware of the signs when a person may be thinking or planning to take their lives.  Be more aware of any changes in a person's actions and behavior that may be warnings that he or she is thinking about suicide.  If you do see the signs, don't leave the person alone. Remove any means or weapons that could be used in a suicide attempt and call for help especially if you feel you cannot provide the help the person at risk needs.

You can call places like Mental Health's 24-hour Crisis Hotline at 647-8833 or Sanctuary's 24-hour hotline     at 475-7100.

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