Suicide prevention conference: “I jumped and I lived from that fall”

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Hundreds of health care professionals and educators packed the Embassy Suites San Marcos Convention Center Tuesday for the 10th annual Texas Suicide Prevention Symposium. A host of different speakers including mental health professionals and people who have survived attempted suicides spoke about how to help people dealing with mental disorders

“Let’s reach out to those people who we think may be in danger, and just ask the words, ‘Are you okay? Is something wrong, or can I help you?” said Kevin Hines, an international public speaker who talks on how to cope with depression and how to prevent suicides.

Hines attempted suicide and jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in 2000.

“Everybody just walked by me on that bridge, I was there standing crying my eyes out. Leaning over the rail, and nobody noticed,” said Hines, who lives with severe bipolar disorder with psychotic features has now dedicated his life through speaking engagements, a book and videos to help others.

“It’s not having a bad day, its not being sad, it’s about being clinically in a place where you’re so down that you contemplate hurting yourself,” said Hines.

There are 163 local crisis centers around the United States to talk to someone thinking about suicide, emotionally distressed, or a friend or a family member who maybe concerned for someone.

24 HOUR CRISIS HOTLINES

“Depression is very deep and one of the issues when someone is suffering from a clinical depression is that they may not recognize or realize what they are experiencing is an illness that’s treatable,”said Richard McKeon, Chief of the Suicide Prevention Branch at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “They feel hopeless and feel no possibility and that they will be trapped in this level of pain.”

McKeon said last year the national suicide prevention line received a million calls.

“When people hear about a tragic loss as Robin Williams they get a sense of wonderful work that he did that the dimension of that single loss, but suicide is the 10th leading cause in the united states and these losses are happening frequently,” said McKeon.  “For each suicide loss there are family members and friends who are touched and effected, so its really important for people to realize everyday is a day we need to focus on suicide prevention.”

A lot of reasons why people don’t seek treatment is because they say they can’t afford the treatment, can’t handle the problems on their own, don’t know where to go, and some are worried about others finding out.

One group is targeting those concerns and the director of Vets 4 Warriors said many service members and their families are unaware of this support line which is completely confidential.  Callers are able to talk to someone who has faced similar challenges.

“Call and talk to a Veteran, talk to someone who’s been where you are, who’s served in missions you have done and understands what you go through like the PCS moves, the training the deployments, and separations,” said Mark Graham, a retired Major General for the US Army who now serves as director for Vets 4 Warriors.

Texas Suicide Prevention Council, Mental Health America of Texas, Texas Department of State Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Terri Goodman and Associates hosted the symposium in San Marcos.

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