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Families hope recommendations will help lower suicide rates

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    LANSING, Michigan (WNEM) — A Michigan resident dies by suicide every six hours, according to a new report by the state health department. The report crafted by the Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission and makes recommendations on how to reduce the state’s suicide rate.

“If I had to predict a young person in college who would’ve died by suicide it would never have been my nephew,” said Julie Hart.

20-year-old Freeland resident Ben Younglao died by suicide while attending college at Michigan Tech last October. His aunt Julie Hart says she doesn’t know where her grieving family would be without Barb Smith and her Suicide Resource and Response Network. Hart said Smith got a message from the medical director who was there with Younglao.

“Said that she held him like he was her own…and she wanted the family to know that,” Hart said.

Younglao is part of a troubling statistic. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services someone dies by suicide in the state every 6 hours.

“It’s devastating. I think most people who don’t work in this field don’t realize the magnitude of the problem,” Smith said.

Smith is part of Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission. Monday the commission released a report with recommendations aimed at preventing suicide.

“It’s very emotional for me to know that my brother didn’t die without a purpose and we’re going to make change for other people. And it’s something we’re going to do that needed to be done,” Smith said.

“If it can happen to our family it can happen to anyone,” Hart said.

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