Local officers to be recognized for suicide prevention efforts

PALMDALE – Mental Health America (MHA) and Palmdale City Council will present City Commendations next week to California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Talbot and Sergeant John Rush of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Crisis Negotiations Team for their heroic efforts in suicide prevention.

Officer Talbot and Sgt. Rush persuaded an Antelope Valley resident not to jump off a highway overpass on the northbound Antelope Valley Freeway on the afternoon of Jan. 20, 2012 and brought the man to safety.

The commendation ceremony will be held during the regular Palmdale City Council meeting on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

“Suicides and depression are both quite prevalent in Antelope Valley,” said Judy Cooperberg, MHA executive director.  According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health ’s Key Indicators of Health, Antelope Valley ranks the highest in the county with incidence rates of 11.4% and 17.1%, respectively.

“Suicide is an uncomfortable topic that no one wants to talk about, but it is a serious public health issue that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities.  It’s important for the public to understand that the suicidal state is preventable and treatable and learn how to look for the warning signs and assess a person’s risk.  There are resources available to help such as MHA and suicide prevention crisis hotlines,” continues Cooperberg.

Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford expressed his gratitude, on behalf of the City Council, to the officers for their bravery in preserving the lives and well-being of the community.

“This is an opportune occasion to recognize the exceptional service these officers provide on a daily basis and also shine the spotlight on suicide and mental illness and how our community can address these issues,” said Ledford.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 36,909 suicide deaths reported in the United States in 2009, and suicide was the 10th leading cause of death.

Suicidal behavior is complex but risk factors include: mental illness such as depression or bipolar disorder, alcohol or drug abuse, previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, history of being sexually abused, impulsive or aggressive tendencies, and having a firearm in the home.  About two-thirds of people who complete suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths, with the risk of suicide in people with major depression at about 20 times that of the general population.

Resources in Antelope Valley

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
  • Los Angeles County Suicide Prevention Center Hotline: 1-877-7CRISIS (1-877-727-4747)
  • Teen Line: 1-800-TLC-TEEN (1-800-852-8336)
  • Spanish speaking Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDA (1-800-784-2432)
  • Veterans Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-8255, press 1
  • Mental Health America Antelope Valley: 661-726-2850

(Information via press release from Mental Health America of Los Angeles.)