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San Diego County health officials urge residents to recognize suicide warning signs

REGION — San Diego County health officials today urged residents to look out for warning signs of suicide in loved ones.

On average, more than one San Diegan commits suicide every day, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

Recognizing warning signs can safe lives.

“Suicide can be prevented,” said Alfredo Aguirre, director of county Behavioral Health Services. “Depression knows no race, ethnic backgrounds or socioeconomic status. It’s important to know the warning signs and how to assist a suicidal person in need of help.”

Two high-profile deaths this week have brought suicide into the fore of public consciousness. Famed handbag designer Kate Spade died of an apparent
suicide Tuesday. And famous chef, writer and CNN travel host Anthony Bourdain was found dead of an apparent suicide Friday morning.

County officials implored residents to take seriously behavior in others that could indicate potential for self-harm.

Warning signs include talking about hurting oneself, social isolation, increased alcohol or drug use, risky behavior and general hopelessness. Loss of health, job, home, or family can also spur self-harm.

The county offers a Access and Crisis Line where trained counselors offer advice on handling mental health crises. The number is (888) 724-7240.

Someone contemplating suicide, or one who knows someone contemplating suicide, can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.

If someone is in immediate danger, call 911. In that case, county officials recommend listening, urging professional help and not leaving the person alone.

“When a friend or a loved one comes to you for help, take it seriously. Ask if he or she is having thoughts of suicide or ending it all,” Aguirre said. “That simple conversation can help save a life.”

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