The American Association of Suicidology is convening its 50th annual conference in Phoenix this week by promoting a vision: a world where people know how to prevent suicide.
More than 1,200 people are expected to attend the conference, which began Wednesday and continues through Saturday, said Julie Cerel, president-elect of the group.
Cerel told The Arizona Republic that she hopes attendees are able to talk about preventing suicide, intervening when someone is suicidal and helping after someone has experienced suicide loss or has survived a suicide attempt.
“We lose more than 41,000 Americans every year to suicide,” Cerel said.
Those attending the conference each year are working together to figure out how to help people when a suicide attempt or suicide death does happen, she said.
According to the association’s website, in 2015, Phoenix lost 1,276 people to suicide — one person every seven hours. Arizona is ranked 13th in the country for suicide deaths, the organization said.
Among the volunteers with the group at the conference was Rebecca, who said she wanted to support the effort because of her own experience.
“I’m an attempt survivor and I have lost several friends to suicide,” said Rebecca, who asked that her last name not be used. “When I got healthy for myself, I really wanted to help other people.”
Living Works Education has provided suicide-intervention training for more than 30 years, according to information provided by the company.
Owen Stockden, a spokesman for Living Works Education, said suicide prevention should be a community effort. Anyone can learn skills that will allow them to identify when someone is thinking about suicide, he said.
The idea is to bring suicide intervention into the community, Stockden said. “It’s everyone’s business.”
Stockden said he has known several people personally who have dealt with thoughts of suicide.
“The biggest difference we can make is when we really pool our resources, and we come at the problem of suicide from all these different angles,” Stockden said. “That’s how we get some traction and get some progress toward saving lives.”
Many of the conference attendees are tweeting information they have learned using the hashtag #AAS17.
More information can be found on the group’s website.
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