By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO November 13, 2001 During the Thursday, November 8 Sullivan County Legislature Health and Family Services meeting, Action Toward Independences (ATI) Scott Clark revealed a statistic to startled legislators: Sullivan County leads New York State in suicide attempts and completions.
The information came as a part of a presentation by Clark about ATI's Suicide Prevention Program.
"This is touchy subject matter," Clark told the group assembled. "This is a significant problem in this area."
The groups with the highest suicide rate are those between the ages of 15 and 24 and those above 55. One age group that is rising quickly is the 10-14-year-olds.
Clark pointed out that most people contemplating suicide show signs that it is on their mind, like feelings of hopelessness, despair, depression, pain, and the inability to think clearly and/or make decisions. Other signs include withdrawal, giving away prized possessions, loss of interest, no concern over appearance, and increased drug and alcohol use.
Clark explained some of the reasons youth commit suicide, including the fact that it is not easy, especially on the western end of the county, to get from one place to another. Another reason has to do with isolating themselves on the computer. Clark stated it changes their personality.
If signs are noticed, Clark said that intervention is necessary. Those contemplating suicide want to talk about it, and he implored people not to leave the person alone but to get help for them.
Committee Chair Leni Binder asked if ATI was working with other county agencies for a coordinated effort. Clark stated he has met with some of the agencies.
In addition, a Yellow Ribbon Program has been offered to all the schools, where a card is given to the kids to seek help if they consider suicide. Sullivan West will do the program, and Liberty is interested, according to Clark, but there is no word from the other districts.
If anyone is contemplating suicide, they should call 911. The person would then be connected to a counselor from Covenant House. ATI also hopes to form their own hotline.