Suicide Prevention Work Aims to Save Lives

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
September is Suicide Awareness Prevention Month.

This month, community residents and organizations are working to raise awareness about suicide, to educate people about the signs and symptoms, and encourage people to reach out before it’s too late.

Many of us have been personally affected by suicide and know a close family member or friend that has been lost to suicide.

The stories are heartbreaking and often loved ones are left feeling confused, guilty, angry, hurt and deeply saddened by the loss.

In New York, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people age 15 to 34 and the third leading cause of death for kids ages 10 to 14.

On average, one person dies by suicide every five hours in New York state.

According to the latest data available on the New York State Office of Mental Health’s website, in the last three years: 157 suicides were reported in Onondaga County; 54 were reported in Oswego; and 55 were reported in Jefferson County.

Major depression contributes to the suicide rate and can be a disabling condition.

The New York State Office of Mental Health recently published an online comprehensive, updated booklet called “Depression.”

It outlines the signs and symptoms of depression, reviews options for treatments, and provides detailed descriptions of the types of depression.

It also features testimonials from people who have experienced major depression.

The booklet can be viewed at

One of the first things to do is to discuss symptoms and treatment options with your primary care physician, which can include antidepressants and therapy.

Both can help people to lead healthier and happier lives.

Education is also critical to suicide prevention treatment.

I sponsor legislation that would require the Office of Mental Health in consultation with the State Department of Education to develop materials regarding the prevention of suicide for educators.

Currently this is left to the local districts to determine whether suicide prevention is taught in secondary education schools.

Many community members are planning walks and events this month to help teach others about mental illness, aid them in spotting suicidal tendencies, and provide support to families.

Loved ones plan to walk in memory of those they have lost to suicide and say it sometimes helps to tell their stories in the hopes that it will help someone else from experiencing the same type of loss.

On Sept. 24, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) will host “Stride to Save Lives” at Sheldon Hall which is located at SUNY Oswego.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Check-in time begins at 9 a.m.

Following the walk there will be live music.

To register, visit

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention “Out of the Darkness” Watertown walk will be held on Sept. 24 at Thompson Park Pavilion.

The walk begins at noon and check-in time is at 11 a.m.

To register, visit

“Take a Stand, Save a Life Community Walk” will be held on Oct. 1 at 9 a.m.

Walkers are invited to gather at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater to walk to Onondaga Lake and back.

The walk is dedicated to the memory of loved ones that have been lost to suicide and to raise awareness of those who struggle with mental illness.

To learn more or to register, visit

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention each year hosts the “Out of the Darkness” walk at Long Branch Park on the Westshore Trail.

This year the walk will be held on Oct. 7 and starts at noon.

To register for the walk, visit

The State Office of Mental Health funds the Suicide Prevention Center of New York.

Their efforts center around education and training to reduce suicide attempts.

They maintain a 24-hour hotline in partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-877-273-TALK.

The public may also contact the agency to be connected with the right services locally at 518-402-9122 or visit

In Oswego County, residents may also call the Oswego Hospital Behavioral Services Division’s 24-hour hotline at (315) 343-8162 for mental health help.

In Onondaga County, residents may call (315) 251-0600.

Jefferson County residents may call (315) 785-3283.

You may also contact your doctor’s office for advice or help accessing local services.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.