LA ranks 28th in the country for deaths by suicide per year

MONROE, La. (KNOE) - The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says Louisiana ranks as 28th in the country for deaths by suicide per year. Counselors say it's on the whole community to change those statistics by removing the stigma associated with mental health.

September is National Suicide Prevention month and counselors say it's on the community to make a difference. (KNOE)

Jennifer Ditter is a licensed professional counselor with the Wellspring. She says since September is National Suicide Prevention month they want to raise awareness especially this month.

The state ranks higher than the national average in the rate of suicide deaths per 100,000 people. On average, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says that in Louisiana one person dies every 12 hours by suicide. They say it's also the 3rd leading cause of death in the state among people ages 15 to 34.

Those statistics are why Ditter says she wants to educate as many people as possible and let the community know that it is okay to talk about feelings of suicide.

The foundation says it costs the state $675,990,000 in combined lifetime medical and work loss cost in 2010.

Ditter says bullying can be a factor in suicidal thoughts, but she says it's important to be aware that the bully and the person being bullied are both going through something. She says the person being bullied is going through immense pain, but the bully usually has external causes that are causing that person to act out.

"We want to be talking to the schools and have them talk to the kids," explains Ditter. "There's nothing wrong with talking about it because kids need to know that whether they're being bullied, or they're struggling at home with issues, whether they've got their internal issues going on, it's a painful experience and it's real and we're here."

Ditter says suicide can affect anyone - from young adults to seniors. She says it's important to realize that seniors do have issues later in life as illnesses set in and their family members move around.

"Let's look at the positive things, what about your life was positive," asks Ditter. "Share those memories with me, and tell me what was your life, what was the good in your life?"

She says whenever she talks with clients she tries to find what makes the person happy.

"Because a lot of times we get stuck in the negative, and so with the elderly, they focus on 'what did I do wrong', but it should be 'what did I do right'," says Ditter.