Legislative committee looks at suicide prevention

A legislative subcommittee is examining how to combat one of Nevada's number one problems: suicide.

The mountain states lead the nation in suicide statistics, and Nevada leads the nation in its per capita suicide rate.

According to 1999 statistics, 404 people killed themselves in Nevada, more than twice the 10.7 in 100,000 people who kill themselves nationwide. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death nationwide.

While the suicide rate in Nevada has been attributed to different factors from the state's rural nature to its ties to gaming, the 2001 Legislature resolved to explore what could be done to help people cope.

"Because many suicides are preventable, there is an urgent need for the development of more effective programs for the prevention of suicide," reads a resolution on the issue. " Efforts to prevent suicide should be encouraged to the maximum extent possible."

John Amundson, a board member with the Douglas County Suicide Prevention Network, said his group is encouraging area residents to weigh in on whether or not the state should route funding into more community prevention efforts as well as programs to deal with those at risk of committing suicide and the families of suicide victims.

Founded as the Yellow Ribbon group by a family who lost a son to suicide, he said he's learned suicide affects people in all age groups. While suicide rates are highest among people under age 24, suicide among the elderly is on the rise.

"When you have a No. 1 problem, it deserves our attention," Amundson said. "The more we're aware it's a No. 1 problem, then we as members of this state can start pushing on the state to do something about it."

Glen Martin, a volunteer and resistance training coordinator with several agencies for the elderly, promotes exercise as a way to deal with the depression that often leads to suicide. At 83, Martin, of Carson City, said he discovered the benefits of exercise years ago and plans to testify before the subcommittee on multiple studies showing exercise, in some cases, is as good as medication in treating depression.

The hearing is 10 a.m., Friday in room 3138 of the Legislative Building, 301 S. Carson St.


What: Legislative hearing on suicide prevention

When: 10 a.m. Friday

Where: Legislative Building Room 3138, 301 S. Carson St.


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