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Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier wants everyone to be aware for World Suicide Prevention Day

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — MHAST is continously trying to save lives, but needs the community’s help to really make a difference.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. MHAST wants to change that statistic.

Executive Director of MHAST, Keith Leahey, has one message for the Southern Tier and the country: be aware.

“Be aware, be mindful,” said Leahey. “It takes a community to address suicide and you know there’s a tremendous opportunity to reduce suicide rates by being aware.”

Leahey says some signs to be aware of is a change in mood or behavior. If a person you know is appearing negative in his or her speech or seem distant, depressed, or anxious, those could be signs that person may need help.

Then once you recognize these signs and believe a friend or family member needs help, the best way to start is by opening up the conversation.

“You can say I’m concerned about you,” said Leahey. “I noticed that your mood is different.”

MHAST offers multiple programs and services that can help anyone in need.

One of the programs they run is with local law enforcement. Trained officers work with the organization when assessing people on scene who may appear suicidal. Leahey says this program has prevented approximately 70% of people from going to the hospital as a result of suicide attempts.

Another program is a five day get-away.

“We also have what’s called a short term crisis respite and that program provides individuals who are experiencing mental wellness and opportunity to kind of unplug from life to go to a house that’s very much a home-like setting and to stay there for up to five days as they work through whatever situation they’re faced with,” said Leahey.

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

Anne Sparaco

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