Leaders gather to raise suicide prevention awareness

State and local leaders gathered Thursday in Tarrytown to mark National Depression Screening Day and raise awareness about suicide prevention.

More than 30,000 people a year commit suicide in the U.S., most of whom are struggling with some form of depression. However, many changes are occurring to raise awareness.

The Tappan Zee Bridge has seen its share of suicide attempts. Two prevention phones on each side of the bridge were installed a couple of months ago. Those phones automatically connect the caller to a counselor.

High schools throughout the Hudson Valley are being recruited to take part in a new depression screening program. Its goal is to prevent suicides among teens. Christopher Lucas is the director of a pilot program called STEPS, which stands for screening, treatment and education to prevent suicide.

After a school district signs up for the program, parents and students within the district will be able to receive regular e-mail messages and access to two Web sites that will provide information on self-assessment and screening resources.

Those involved hope the small steps will hopefully make a big difference for those struggling with depression.

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