Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people 15 to 24 years of age in this country according to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network and The National Institute of Mental Health.
Former Orlando police officer, John J. Chisari, spoke to Vol State students about suicide prevention and depression on March 25, 2010. As a police officer, he worked on the homicide team for 15 years, and during that time helped 300 people on the verge of suicide.
“The definition of stress is worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It’s not the number of youth suicides, it’s that there are any at all,” Chisari said.
Candace Whiting said, “I am part of Phi Theta Kappa and I came today to learn more about the subject; possibly being able to help because I attempted suicide eight months ago.” Whiting is a single mother of two and said the pressures of everything were starting to cave in. She got a letter saying that she had been accepted to college and that her grants went through, and she said this was when she knew that all wasn’t lost. She said school and her children are her priorities now.
Chisari put a personal spin on his talk when he told of his past alcoholism he has dealt with. “In 1986 I stuck a gun in my mouth. Passing out was the only thing that saved me. I was the first police officer in Orlando to ever go to rehab and come out, and still have my job,” he said.
Chisari says that education and outreach are very important in the prevention of suicide. Be known, and get out in the community. “You need community based training for prevention, and you need to remove the stigma of suicide,” he said.
“When a kid is in a crisis he is going to go that first breathing human, and if that person says, ‘whatever,’ then there is another statistic. Every single person who has attempted suicide or completed the act of suicide has talked to somebody about it,” Chisari said.
Chisari listed things not to say to someone who is contemplating suicide:
“It’s just a phase,” “You’ll snap out of it,” “Stop being so selfish,”” You’re just trying to get attention,” and “Whatever” were some key phrases not to say.
“Be non judgmental. Suicidal people don’t want to hear negative stuff,” Chisari said.
The National Suicide Prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK.
The Vol State advising center can direct you to the appropriate person to talk to if you or someone you know is having feelings of suicide. Suicide is the most preventable cause of death.
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