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Of all the threats to daily existence, crime, disease, accidents, suicide, the one that has the most taboo attached to it is suicide. That’s probably because it is the one threat that is seen by society as something that one is in complete control of, making it much harder for those left behind to comprehend and deal with.
Los Alamos itself is not immune from having to deal with this subject, having just suffered some recent losses in the teen and young adult community.
According to statistics provided by the New Mexico Department of Health, the most recent being 2009, suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people (10-44 years) in New Mexico. The state overall has been in the top five since 1997.
“The suicide rate in New Mexico has consistently been 1.5 to two times the U.S. rate,” according to a statement on the department’s website. “Suicide rates in New Mexico have not changed significantly over the 1995-2009 period, while the U.S. rate has declined slightly.”
To that end, The Los Alamos Teen Center and therapist Elisa Enriquez will be reaching out Wednesday to teens or adults interested in learning more about the issue. Called, “Provide AID, Prevent Suicide,” the workshop will run from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Teen Center, located at 3900 Trinity Drive, at the Trinity On the Hill Episcopal Church.
“There’s a stigma attached to suicide, and I just think it’s something that needs to be talked about,” said Michaelangelo Lobato, director of the Teen Center.
AID stands for “Ask, Intervene, Do.” According to Enriquez, the workshop will focus on awareness and prevention. One of the reasons Enriquez, who runs similar programs at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, created the workshop is to help people overcome their fear of talking about it.
“Unfortunately, people don’t want to talk about it, or they fear that talking about it will put the idea in people’s heads,” she said. “Actually, the opposite is true. They need to talk about it to come up with prevention ideas and to support one another.”
The workshop will feature a discussion about the facts and myths of suicide as well as how to help someone who may be feeling suicidal. There will also be a talk about resources on where to find help.
The issues that may be discussed include different forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying and self-mutilation.
“It will be a very down-to-Earth discussion,” Enriquez said.
Enriquez said there will be a follow up discussion in September as well.
“I’d like to see the community get behind the idea of having more resources available, and one way we could do that is through some events in September,” Enriquez said.