Talk of suicide helps raise community awareness

Walking into the Hotchkiss Hose Company firehouse, you could see the group of people sitting in the rows of chairs who came to learn about QPR (question, persuade, refer) for suicide prevention.

Presenters John Saccu, director of the city of Derby’s Youth Services Bureau, and Lorrie McFarland, prevention coordinator of BHcare’s Alliance for Prevention and Wellness, waited as the crowd took their seats ready to learn about the controversial topic on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

The workshop included such topics as suicide warning signs, common myths about suicide, how to intervene in a crisis, and suicide prevention resources.

Before any information was given out, everyone participating had a chance to introduce themselves and explain why they were there and what they hoped to learn. A member of Hotchkiss Hose Company even took attendance at the workshop.

“This is good that we get to do this at the community level, because suicide prevention is really important. Unfortunately, we have had a bunch of incidents as of recently,” Saccu said.

Saccu went on to explain that to help someone is not so difficult.

“There are always warning signs when someone is considering any sort of harm to themselves. You just need to pay attention in order to help them,” said Saccu.

Presentations are also held within the schools, especially at the high school level, because kids at that level and in college are among the are among the most likely to to take their own lives or harm themselves.

In Connecticut, suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24. It is considered a major public health issue.

In 2017, in the state of Connecticut, there were 384 cases of suicide.

Risk factors include alcohol or substance abuse, past suicide attempts, traumatic loss, and disappointment or humiliation. According to Saccu, warning signs include feeling hopeless and trapped.

Some myths about suicide that were discussed at the meeting are that suicidal people keep their plans to themselves and those who do talk about it won’t do it. The fact is that when someone is suicidal, there is usually some indication or some sort of verbal conversation that will happen, according to Saccu.

Many studies have been done within the state about suicide.

The period from 2005 to 2012 had the highest rate of suicide in the state’s history. The highest numbers were recorded in Litchfield, with 152 deaths, and then Middlesex, with 133 deaths.

To learn more about suicide, people can turn to many resources. One that Saccu and McFarland recommend is the website

The motto of the website is “One Word, One Voice, One Life.”

According to the site, it is believed that it takes only one person to help stop someone who is trying to cause harm to himself or herself. The site states that “sometimes, a person just needs someone to listen to and that can make the difference.”

If it is an emergency, you can dial 211 and the number will take you a crisis center. If there is a more extreme emergency, you can always dial 911.

“To help someone is not so difficult,” Saccu reminded everyone and then added, “Be that one voice that can help save someone’s life.”