Shedding light on suicide

"It could be that suicides are a leading cause of death for teens. [but] in some states, it is required that a suicide note be left," said Coleman.

She said that research indicates only one in six suicides involves a note.

"From county to county in our state, coroners vary in how they report a suicide, so it may be that coroners have known a family a long time and chose to rule the death as an accident or a different cause," said Coleman.

She said that is often done in an effort to make the family's loss a little less painful to handle.

She said that sometimes it is also hard to tell whether a death was actually a mistake or whether it was done on purpose " she used fatal car accidents as an example.

However, Coleman said she has noticed a statewide trend in providing mental health for those who may be at risk, and it happens to be something that hits close to home for her.

"For many, many years we did not talk about suicide at all. I lost my brother in 1979, and at that time we didn't talk about it," said Coleman. "I would say probably around the mid-'80s, we the advocates " those who had lost someone to suicide " began to step forward and tell our stories and change legislation."

She said that things like Timothy's Law, which requires health plans sold in New York to provide comparable coverage for mental health ailments, were part of the beginning of a reform.

"We know that in 90 percent of suicides, there is a mental illness involved. Much has changed in the last 30 years or so since I lost my brother," said Coleman. "We have a long way to go " we've made great headway " but still have a ways to go."

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