Oneida County fights increasing suicide rate with app


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Robin Williams spent his life making America laugh, but his death is now a reminder of the prevelancy of depression in our society.

Suicide is one of the top ten leading causes of death, but it's also, "One of the most preventable deaths if we eliminate the stigma of mental health. Letting people know that it's okay to have a mental health issue and they're all treatable and you have the ability to feel better," said Cassandra Sheets, CEO of Center for Family Life and Recovery in Utica.

Oneida County has seen an increase in suicides over the years. The latest information from the Oneida County Public Health Department shows 35 completed suicides in 2013.

The Center for Family Life and Recovery is working to bring the numbers down, even using an app called Safety Plan. You can develop coping strategies, instantly connect with professional resources and even list reasons to live.

"So when you're really feeling very depressed and you think you want to take your life, you can look at some of those reasons and that can you help you to say, oh there's reasons for me to be alive more than not," said Sheets.

But sometimes people aren't ready to help themselves and that's when it's important for friends and family to notice the warning signs:

-Talking about wanting to die or having feelings of hopelessness
-Increasing the use of alcohol or dugs
-Sleeping too little or too much

"One time they were active and now they're not. That's a big warning sign and those tend to happen kind of slow," said Sheets.

Job stress, changes in the economy, and societal pressures are all factors contributing to an increase in suicide. Sheets says what we can do as a society is talk about depression.

"If we normalize that and embrace it, we can help prevent the tragedies such as what happened with Robin Williams," said Sheets.

The Oneida County Suicide Prevention Coalition is meeting next on August 19 at 502 Court Street from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Everyone is welcome.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call:

If an emergency, dial 911

Mobile Crisis Assessment Team (MCAT) at 315-732-6228

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-784-2433 or 800-273-8255


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