Baton Rouge agency helping to prevent suicide

Photo provided by staff.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 7:00pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 9:52pm

It's not something we usually talk about, but the recent death of a young star is shining a harsh light on suicide this week. Actor Lee Thompson Young died by his own hand Monday. Norma Rutledge, the executive director of the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center, said suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, but it's the only one that's 100% preventable.

"I was a senior at LSU, when six students died by suicide, and I was also friends with one of those students," Rutledge said.

Which is why Rutledge has dedicated her life helping people in crisis.

"My friend was the president of the student body, and he had lots going for him," Rutledge said. "So there was a big surprise throughout the campus."

People in the 15 to 32-year-old age group have the highest risk for suicide, but Rutledge said it can happen in any age group.

"So if we look at just groups of people and age groups and target ranges or certain kind of other identifying groups, we're going to miss the person sitting next to us," Rutledge said. "They're feeling alone. They're generally feeling pretty desperate and some big loss is happening in them. The loss of their health or the loss of their job or the loss of a relationship and then they are feeling hopeless. 'I don't know what to do and I don't know where to turn.'"

Rutledge said the center receives nearly 30,000 crisis calls each year, and a fraction of those are people who report having suicidal thoughts.

"A person can call here and say 'well look let's call the crisis center and let's talk to somebody,' We are very helpful in helping people develop a safe plan and a safe for now plan until they can get some additional help to deal with their problem," Rutledge said. "Most people don't really want to die. They just want to stop hurting."

The center partners with the coroner's office and the United Way to help anyone going through a crisis.

If you want more information on recognizing the signs that someone is considering suicide or just need someone to talk to in your time of crisis, you can go to or you can call their hotline at 211.   

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