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Recent Death Highlights Public Health Issue of Suicide and Importance of Prevention

by on December 26, 2013 8:45 AM

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people between ages 10 and 24, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Centre County, at least 13 people between ages 15 and 24 committed suicide between 2003 and 2011, according to the Pennsylvania Health Department. For all age groups in Centre County, there were 12 suicides this year and 19 in 2012, according to the county coroner's office.

A Penn State student died Friday morning after jumping from the Fraser Street Parking Garage. Authorities identified the student as 22-year-old Andrew Magargle, of Pasedena, Md. Officials have ruled his death a suicide.

The university says it will strive to be more vigilant for warnings of suicide.

When the death of a student occurs, the university provides individual grief and group counseling for friends and roommates of the deceased as well as with organizational groups and clubs with close ties to the victim, according to university spokeswoman Lisa Powers.

Student Affairs also connects with the victim's family to offer assistance.

After an intentional death of a student, Powers says the university conducts a review to see if there were missed opportunities that the university could have recognized and subsequently intervened.

Additionally, the university provides proactive seminars on identifying student risks and warning signs to effectively intervene. The university also provides bystander intervention information to students and others on campus.

"We constantly examine how we can be a more caring community and provide stronger safety nets for students and others. These tragic events deeply impact our community and remind us that we must try to do more," Powers says.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Warning signs of suicide, according to the National American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

- Talking about wanting to die.

- Looking for a way to kill oneself.

- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.

- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

- Talking about being a burden to others.

- Increased use of drugs or alcohol.

- Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly.

- Sleeping too little or too much.

- Withdrawing or feeling isolated.

- Showing rage or talking about revenge.

- Displaying extreme emotion.

The more signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Here's what experts say you should do if someone shows signs of suicide:

- Do not leave the person alone.

- Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

- Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government. jenn.miller@statecollege.com
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