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Men suffering depression, suicidal thoughts less likely to seek help
May 2, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report on Thursday that says deaths caused by suicide now surpass deaths from car accidents.

In the past 10 years, suicide rates in adults between the ages of 35 and 64 have increased 28 percent. In Utah, adult men between 50 to 54 years old have the highest suicide rates of all age groups.

The report also showed that, statistically, men use more fatal methods to commit suicide than women, like guns. However, men are also less likely to seek help for depression or suicidal tendencies, to the detriment of their families.

Terry Aiken was a successful businessman and father when he died by suicide at age 54. His daughter, Taryn, is now a suicide prevention advocate working tirelessly to save other families from the pain and heartbreak of suicide.

"My dad had battled depression my whole life," said Taryn Aiken, co-chair for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "He was just not able to get the right treatment. I think he felt like it was a character flaw."

Leading suicidologist and psychiatrist Doug Gray said it is difficult for many people to escape the stigma of mental illness and get the right treatment, especially men.

"I'd like to see more ad campaigns addressed to fireman, policeman, football players, tough guys who can get depression and need help," Gray said. "We know that most people who die by suicide are either not in treatment or they have dropped out of treatment and they have stopped taking their prescribed medicines, and sometimes they are self-medicating with illicit drugs or alcohol."

Taryn said her father was self-medicated, and she grew up always afraid for him but didn't know how to help.

"The more honest we are and the more of us that will speak out and say that we are struggling when we are, then the more people will hopefully start to reach out and get help," Taryn said. "Just knowing that there was help out there I think was huge for me."

Like her father, Taryn also lives with mental illness and attempted suicide as a teen.

"Life does get better and even when it's those hard, dark times, you can get through them," she said. "You just need to ackowledge that, 'Hey, something is wrong. Let's work together to try to figure out what it is and what we can do to get you help.' "