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Groups Praise Federal Suicide Prevention Efforts


Groups in Massachusetts are praising the Federal government’s announcement last week to enhance suicide prevention efforts. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

Roberta Hurtig, Executive director of Boston-based Samaritans, is an advocate for suicide prevention. Part of the work that Samaritans does, which has eight-community based prevention centers in Southern New England, is provide hotline support for at risk individuals. Hurtig says prevention hotlines have demonstrated the importance of intervention.

The problem, however, is that many suicide prevention programs are often in search of funding.

As part of National Suicide Prevention Week last week, federal officials announced that they would re-evaluate the nation’s strategy for prevention. The government also said that they would increase staffing at the national suicide prevention hotline by 50%, as part of its plans to revise the national strategy on suicide prevention.

Jennifer Kelliher, managing director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, said that the Bay state has one of the lowest suicide rates in the country, due to government involvement in prevention efforts.

However, Roberta Hurtig says despite a lower suicide rate, the problem remains serious.

Jennifer Kelliher said last week the MCSP hosted their annual breakfast in Worcester.

The MCSP hosts six regional coalitions, including the Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention. Chairwoman Peggy Morse said that in Berkshire County, self inflected injury among young people remains an issue.

According to statistics provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released last year, between the years 2009 and 2009, more than 4,500 state residents died of suicide. Over the course of the decade, there was a 28% increase in suicides. The highest percentage increase occurred among white-males.

Peggy Morse said that the Berkshire County Coalition for Suicide Prevention will continue its efforts to reach out to the elderly, veteran, and youth populations.

More information on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be found at: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

The lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK [8255]

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.