Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, and most suicides are a result of untreated mental illness. We know today that more research, advocacy and education can help prevent these needless deaths. Like so many others, I know about this personally because I have watched family members battle mental illness and friends die by suicide.

For too long suicide has been swept under the rug while families have been made to feel ashamed for losing a loved one to mental illness. Now, some solutions may be within our grasp. For example, studies have shown that placing additional barriers on bridges reduces the number of suicides. Once deterred, people often do not try again, and their suicides just never happen. There are similar important findings in other areas such as neurobiology and clinical treatment, but more research is needed. Just as federal funding made the difference in preventing cancer and HIV/AIDS, more funding for suicide prevention research will save lives.

Along with other members of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention from around the country, I’m traveling to Washington, D.C., later this month to tell my members of Congress how important this issue is to me.

If you suffer from depression or anxiety, or you know someone who does, take five minutes right now to call your U.S. representative and senators at (202) 224-3121, and tell them to make suicide prevention a national priority.

You might just save a life.

I would also encourage anyone who has an interest in this cause to join us at Audubon Park on Sept. 12 for a free community event designed to raise awareness and promote suicide prevention. More info can be found at http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=3320.

Leigh Ann Raab

customer service

Houma