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Hospital holds candlelight vigil for those that died by suicide

The vigil coincided with Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — A crowd gathered on the lawn at UPMC Northcentral for a candlelight vigil for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. 

Among the crowd was Amanda Johnson of Williamsport. 

Her brother died by suicide after returning home from the military.

"When he came home, he had a really hard time with transitioning back into civilian life. Ultimately, he died of suicide," she said.

Johnson was comforted by friends and family. 

For her, the lit candle represents the memory of her brother.

"His light is still shining somewhere even though I may not be able to see it like I used to," she added.

According to the American Association of Suicide Prevention, somebody dies of suicide every 11 minutes in the United States.

"I think talking to somebody, even if it is a close friend or a family member or someone who can just validate," said Jackie Baker, a behavioral specialist at UPMC Northcentral. "Sit there, listen, and validate."

Baker says the importance of educating folks about suicide, especially the language we use.

"A lot of times, we hear people commit suicide. We are trying to change the language to died by suicide because it is not a crime," she explained.

Baker says we all play a role in preventing suicide. She shared some signs to look for if a loved one is going through a tough time.

"Some of that can be isolating. It could be giving away prized possessions or not answering phone calls for someone who is usually pretty talkative," she said.

UPMC shared a number of local resources to help people who may be considering suicide. You can find the link here.

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