Nov 23, 2013 8:38 PM by Lindsay MacLeod, KSBY News

Hospice of San Luis Obispo reaches out to locals who have lost a loved one to suicide

A San Luis Obispo organization is trying to get rid of the stigma surrounding suicide and help locals who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Hospice of San Luis Obispo got in on an international movement Saturday. They screened a documentary on suicide awareness and provided resources and counseling for people in San Luis Obispo County who have lost someone to suicide.

"They try to run all the presentations at the same time across the country so that everybody is seeing the presentation at the same time. We're really trying to emphasize that people who have lost someone to suicide aren't alone," said Tony Huffaker, the Director of Counseling.

Huffaker says about 35 to 40 people commit suicide each year in San Luis Obispo County.

"One of the things is it's really important for people to understand it's not about moral weakness. It's not something that people do often randomly. It's the end result of an ongoing mental health issue that hasn't been successfully addressed," said Huffaker.

Huffaker says people often treat suicide differently than death from natural causes.

"People are kind of skittish about a death all together in our culture. When it's a death by suicide, people often really don't know what to say. They feel even more confused so they withdraw. Certainly for people who lose someone to suicide, there's a lot of ambivalence about it," said Huffaker.

The hospice center provides free counseling to anyone who needs help. It is located at 1304 Pacific Street in San Luis Obispo.



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