For Immediate Release
Posted: September 10, 2019

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State health officials highlight efforts to prevent suicide

WMUR Mike Cronin Officials say help available for those who need it

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CONCORD, NH – Health officials in New Hampshire are urging people to recognize the warning signs of suicide as the state marks World Suicide Prevention Day.

State leaders are highlighting the issue in hopes of telling others that help is available.

Robbie Milward is a father and veteran who, about 19 years ago, tried to kill himself.

"I started seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist," he said. "At first, it seemed to help. It wasn't."

Milward said he has depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, but through an inpatient program, he was able to turn his life around.

"It showed me how to use my past experiences of strength to help get me through the rough days," he said. "It truly showed me hope is real."

Health officials said suicide is a leading cause of death in New Hampshire.

"Right now, we're seeing a very large spike in suicide calls," said Cameron Ford, executive director of Headrest, a nonprofit located in Lebanon. "Last month, it was 169 calls related to suicide."

"We are going to be preventative," said Gov. Chris Sununu. "We're going to stand really shoulder to shoulder, throw politics out the window and simply move the ball forward to get stuff done."

Among the state's efforts are a pilot program in the North Country aimed at preventing suicide among veterans in rural areas and an effort to train thousands of people in the state's schools on how to help a child in crisis.

"One-third of those 5,000, we trained just in this last school year, and we really can't even keep up with the demand, so schools and communities are recognizing how important these trainings are," said Michelle Myler, administrator of the Office of Student Wellness in the state Department of Education. Milward said he hopes to inspire others to find help. He said not asking for help almost cost him his life.

"Owning it helps me live my best life," he said. "Owning it shows me and others there is no shame. We will win this with compassion. We will win this with understanding."

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or go to the organization's website to chat with someone online.