Death of Robin Williams prompts dialogue about suicide

Death of Robin Williams prompts dialogue about suicide

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The death of actor Robin Williams has prompted a dialogue about suicide. In East Baton Rouge Parish, a partnership between the coroner's office and the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center is working to help those impacted by the sudden loss of a loved one.

The Traumatic Loss Outreach program began in March 2014. Volunteers are dispatched by the coroner's office to various cases, including suicides.

"There's always a ripple effect," said David Lee, a volunteer, during a past interview with WAFB 9 News. "You'll find that some people who have gone through a traumatic loss feel like they don't deserve to live. They start thinking about taking their life and anger sets in and they want to hurt somebody else."

As of Tuesday, Aug. 12, the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office has investigated 34 suicide cases. In 2013, there were 48 cases, and in 2012 there were 45.

"From what I've read, the experts talk a lot about people's misconceptions about suicide," said Dr. William "Beau" Clark, EBR parish coroner. "Many people believe it happens most around the holidays, but that's not true."

One expert is Baton Rouge-native Dr. Frank Campbell. In a study based on data collected from EBR Parish from 1984 to 1994, he notes that January and April are the two months with the highest frequency for suicides. He also notes that October, November and December are the months with the lowest frequency.

"The need for psychological first aid when sudden and traumatic loss occurs has been well established in the literature," writes Dr. Campbell. "It follows that suicide is the most predictable cause of sudden and traumatic death a community will experience, therefore responding actively."

No medical background or therapy skills are required to be a volunteer. The Center provides all the needed training through an 18-hour course offered a few times a year. Volunteers have to be at least 21 years old and go through an application and screening process.

For crisis help, the Phone can be reached through (225) 924-3900.

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