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Shedding light on suicide

Suicide is often considered a taboo subject, something people discuss in hushed tones. However, Schenectady County, in a joint effort with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is offering a series of community discussions about suicide, how it may be prevented and the steps that are being taken to address the issue within the community.

The next discussion, which is open to parents and teens, will take place Tuesday, April 28, at Scotia-Glenville High School from 6 to 8 p.m. All forums are free.

They're actually community forums, said Mary Jean Coleman, regional director for Upstate New York American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Coleman will be leading the discussions, along with members from the Schenectady County Department of Community Service. The forums are being held partly in response to the recent wave of suicides and attempted suicides among students at Schenectady High School. They are also part of a general effort to educate the public about suicide.

Coleman said her organization wants to spread the message that suicide prevention is a community effort; it's not just the responsibility of schools or government or not-for-profit organizations.

"It's a combination of everyone working together," said Coleman.

She said that her organization has been working closely with Schenectady County and that part of its community-wide mission is to spreading its message through education.

"What is this public health issue of suicide? What does it look like? What's the magnitude of the problem?" Coleman said. "It's a public health problem . What we need to do is educate to take down some of those walls of shame and stigma and silence, and that's what I'll be talking about."

According to Coleman, a reported 32,000 Americans die as a result of suicide each year, but nobody has a solid idea of the actual numbers because many suicides are not reported.

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