About 50 community leaders, students and social workers attended a suicide prevention session Thursday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church parish hall.
The topic, “Suicide: The Public Health Practice” was discussed and speakers talked about gender and racial disparities, who’s at risk, statistics and how to prevent youth suicide.
“Two or possibly three in an average classroom of about 20 seriously considered attempting suicide,” said Martin Ornelas with the Coastal Bend Community Action program. “And young female Latinas have the highest percentage of attempting suicide.”
A small group of San Diego high school students attended the session. The students are part of the Health Science class.
The students said it would have been nice if the audience could have participated or interacted with the speaker.
They said teenagers like themselves have a different opinion of why people commit suicide.
“We as students view the topic differently,” said Regeana Rangel, a San Diego high school student. “We know more (about teen suicide) because we are within the group.”
Spring Garza, also a San Diego student, agreed.
“Sometimes, people build up a grudge,” she said.
Other students said the topic of suicide touched their city when a local soldier took his life recently.
“We wanted to know how to cope and how do we help the family members,” said Blanca Ruvalcaba, a San Diego student.
Barbara Giovannone with Mental Health and Mental Retardation of Portland, discussed some signs to help prevent suicide.
“You lose your fear with alcohol,” she said. “Suicide is a violent act on yourself.”
She said the lethal triad of someone committing suicide involves three factors – an upset person, alcohol and a firearm or lethal weapon.
Statistics show suicides occur in the peak months of January, February and March. They usually happen in midweek, some may involve mental illness, highest percentage are men.
Giovannone said suicide is known to society as a “taboo” and is therefore not talked about.
Even reports and statistics are hard to get because there is not enough research taking place about suicide, she said.
Giovannone said the most important thing is not to downplay the situation.
“We should never downplay the emotions experienced by teens,” she said.