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NAMI to host suicide prevention program

ALBANY, Ga. -- At last count, more than 5,400 Georgians were receiving medical attention annually for intentional self-inflicted injuries.

To address a counter to loss of life, a program centered on suicide prevention will be presented at Phoebe Northwest during NAMI Night on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

According to Jere Brands of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the program will be conducted by Sally vander Straeten, suicide prevention coordinator for the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities.

Brands said recent statistics show that more deaths by suicide occur in Georgia than occur by homicide.

"Survivors of Suicide support groups are urgently needed," Brands said in a press release. "Let's work toward this goal together and bring others into the conversation."

The Phoebe program is open and free to the public and vander Straeten is also available for a networking breakfast on Wednesday morning, Brands said.

According to the most recent statistics, the greatest risk factors for suicide attempts are mental disorders, particularly mood disorders such as depression and bi-polar disorders. Other risks include substance abuse, physical illness, barriers to appropriate clinical care, easy access to firearms, family history of suicide or previous suicide attempts.

In all age groups, the most common instrument of suicide is a gun, according to the DBHDD, and there is evidence of a link between easy home access to loaded firearms and successful suicides. In 2001, around 10 percent of Georgia households kept a loaded, unlocked firearm in the home, with half that number having children in the home.