Presentation to focus on suicide prevention

Sometimes you have to talk about things that you don't want to.

Brian Barr, an expert on mental health and suicide prevention, will be giving a presentation at the SEFCU Corporate Headquarters at 700 Patroon Creek Blvd. off Washington Avenue in Albany, on Thursday, Sept. 17. He said that although suicide can be a touchy subject, talking about it is vital to preventing it.

It needs the light of day upon it. Not talking about it does a disservice to those at risk, Barr said.

Barr, who lives in Guilderland, is working in conjunction with Ed Frank, who advocates against alcohol abuse and drunk driving. Frank said alcohol and suicide can be intimately related.

"Depression can lead to suicide. It's all-encompassing," he said. "[We should] raise awareness of alcohol abuse."

Frank said he reached out in the community to find an expert, and people kept recommending the same person: Barr.

Frank said the forum will be free and open to the public.

"There's no sign up. Just show up," he said.

Frank said if the event is successful, he will consider hosting more events at the Beacon of Hope Care Center in Altamont, where he regularly has DWI prevention exhibits.

Barr said suicide rates increased dramatically in the 1980's during the crack epidemic, but have since leveled off at about 30,000 per year.

Barr said the results of the Youth Risk Behavior Suicide Survey, sponsored by the federal government, indicate a substantial number of young people are thinking about suicide, and the mindset that you should not talk about it for fear of planting the seed is erroneous, since people are already thinking about it.

While Barr worked as the director of a mental health clinic, suicide touched his life when his 18-year-old son Kevin took his own life. That event shaped his life's work.

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