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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
More people think about suicide than we might think.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says there were more than 38,000 suicides across the country in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available.
Fortunately, local people are fighting to make a difference.
Juanita Buck is the supervisor of the county's Mobile Evaluation Team, which helps in crisis situations. She talked Monday on "First Look with Scott Cox" about National Suicide Prevention Week.
The campaign runs from Sept. 9 to 16 and this year's three key messages are: Know the signs. Find the words. Reach out.
So what do you do if you encounter someone who has suicidal thoughts?
"You have to ask the hard question of 'are you thinking of committing suicide,'" Buck said.
When people are at that point in their lives, a lot of them just want someone to know and care about them, Buck said.
Persuading them to get help but never leaving their side is also critical.
Estella Vega has experienced the pain of loosing someone to suicide. She lost her son Jacob when he was 19.
"I never saw the effects of his diagnosis," Vega said on "First Look."
She said Jacob was diagnosed with bipolar disorder five months before he died. Vega said her son graduated from high school with a 4.39 GPA and was accepted into his dream school, UC Berkeley.
She learned what manic depression was after his death and is now a part of a program that reaches out to families that have lost someone and gives them hope.
Buck said Kern County is extremely progressive in how it's addressing suicide.
"There is constant education, classes, groups and a variety of learning experiences that locals can take part of to learn more about suicide," Buck said.
There is an hour-and-a-half training called QPS -- Question, Persuade, Refer -- that teaches the signs of suicide and basic principles of how to potentially help save a life.
To get involved, you can check out the following events this week:
* Thursday, a free movie screening about reducing stigma relating to mental illness and suicide will be shown from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at City Centre, 1300 17th St.
* Sept. 14, the Fourth Annual "Out of the Darkness" walk for suicide awareness and prevention will take place at Beach Park, at the corner of Oak and 24th streets, The event starts at 9 a.m.; sign-up starts at 7:30 a.m.