Suicide prevention conference next week to draw hundreds

Organizers are expecting 800 or more people in Cape Girardeau next week to learn more about the prevention of suicide.

Cape Girardeau is hosting the fifth annual Suicide Prevention and Awareness Conference at the Show Me Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 19.

Last year, more than 600 attended the conference, the largest such event held in Missouri.

The Community Counseling Center Foundation is involved in organizing the event.

This year's conference marks the first time the event will include specific programs just for adolescents and "young advocates" for suicide prevention, according to previous reporting by Mark Bliss.

Other programs will be offered to adults, who are expected to account for the majority of participants.

Rick Strait, a therapist at the CCC, cited statistics by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health that suicide is the second-leading cause of death in Missouri for people aged 15 to 19 and 25 to 34.

In Missouri, Strait told Bliss, one out of eight middle-school students and one out of six high school students seriously considered suicide, according to a 2016 survey.

Hundreds die in Missouri annually; thousands in the United States.

Strait said the conference is open to anyone who wants to learn more about suicide prevention.

The conference will have two keynote speakers, one in the morning session and another in the afternoon.

For more information about the conference, go to suicide preventionconference.com.

If you work in schools or at a church or lead groups of people, this conference is worth consideration. If you've been struggling with suicidal thoughts, please seek help.