The State Department of Mental Health is hosting a two-day State Suicide Prevention Conference in Jefferson City. It includes workshops and feature presentations from professionals, family members, and suicide survivors.

The Mental Health Department’s Bob Bax points out suicide is a serious public health issue that impacts individuals, families, and entire communities.

"In 2007, there were 810 suicides in Missouri," said Bax in an interview with the Missourinet. "Another perspective on that would be that’s an average of one suicide every 10 hours and 49 minutes."

Many Missourians might not realize how high a number that is in comparison to other causes of death.

"Suicide kills more people in Missouri than drunk driving does, than AIDS does, or homicide," said Bax. "So, it has a far-reaching impact."

A major cause of suicide is depression – a topic that is being discussed, in great detail, at this gathering.

"Some of the workshops and presentations at this conference will deal with just that," said Bax. "What are some of the warning signs? And, then, if you have an indication someone may be at risk for suicide, what do you do?"

Several state agencies and departments are taking part, as are county health agencies, school districts, and some faith-based organizations. 

Download/Listen: Steve Walsh report (:60 MP3)