World Suicide Prevention Day sparks conversation

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and experts urge people to get educated.

Courtesy: MGN

"I think the important part of today and this week and month is talking about suicide," said Xavier Whitford who lost her son by suicide.

Whitford’s son died by suicide five years ago.

"I don't want anybody else to go through the loss that we've gone through and live with the pain we have to every day," Whitford said.

Whitford says nobody talks about suicide, so her family didn't know how to speak to her son.

"If someone is struggling with depression or going through a life change we need to ask them if they've thought about that," Whitford said.

"Suicide in itself is complex because suicide is the result of a handful of different factors that may have lead to this darkness," said Licensed Clinical Social Worker Kevin Polky.

According to Polky, suicide rates increased by 33% in the past 20 years and he says social media is a factor.

"Technology has changed how we socialize, interact, how I find my information d and how accurate that is,” Polky said.

"Social media plays a part in it because your looking at everybody else's life and wondering if you don't add up," Whitford said.

Polky said if someone is acting differently it's important to reach out and ask tough questions.

" Are you thinking about hurting yourself? Are you thinking about taking your own life or killing yourself? Ask the direct question because most people that are suicidal will be direct about it," Polky said.

"We know that it's the silence behind suicide and mental illness that is the primary problem," Whitford said.

Wednesday night a documentary about some people who attempted suicide will play at the Nordlof Center. Whitford and several others will talk about the movie and suicide prevention.