Teen's suicide prompts discussion on awareness, prevention - WNEM TV 5

Teen's suicide prompts discussion on awareness, prevention

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Rumors have started on social media, claiming a seventh-grader died by suicide after being bullied.

After speaking with the school district and family, TV5 has confirmed a Saginaw County teenager died by suicide over the weekend, but not as a result of bullying.

Barb Smith is the founder of Survivors of Suicide, a non-profit based in Saginaw.

"It's a much bigger problem than people perceive," Smith said.

Her mission - to educate and inform the public about a topic she says is too often ignored: suicide.

"My brother took his life when he was 20, and my sister-in-law took her life just a few years ago," Smith said. "... I just thought I needed to do something with all of this pain."

Smith said Survivors of Suicide has been both a way for her to cope with the loss of her loved one and prevent another family from such a terrible tragedy.

"So I started my support group and started speaking around the state and hopefully the country," Smith said.

Smith said as a society we try hard to fix roads and prevent crime, but we don’t do enough when it comes to suicide. 

"We do a lot of work in keeping people safe on the roads. Correct?" Smith said. "But we don't spend the same amount of time and money on education to teach people what to do if they're struggling with their mental health."

In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 10-19.

And more than half of those who take their own life or consider it tell someone about their intentions.

Smith said there are many warning signs, but some seem more common than others: 

  • Talking about death
  • Begins to isolate themselves
  • Starts giving away valuables for no apparent reason

Smith said often the signs that someone is considering suicide are right in front of our eyes and sometimes all it takes to save a life, is to have a conversation

"And we should address it with all kids," Smith said. "I think even if you are not concerned about your child that you should still ask them, you know what, have you ever had thoughts of suicide?"

Next month is National Survivors of Suicide Day. Smith is hosting a special event for those families affected.

>>Saginaw Survivors of Suicide website<<

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

If you believe someone is in immediate danger, you are encouraged to call 911.

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