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Defining the signs of suicide

Concerned citizens, parents of suicide victims and local law enforcement engaged in a thought-provoking and emotional discussion about suicide at a special meeting Friday in Nevada City.

The Nevada County Suicide Prevention Taskforce convened at the county superintendent of schools office to “define the problem” and explore various ways to prevent suicides in the county.

The number of suicides in Nevada County spiked last year to 24 – the highest in the past 13 years, Cathy Valceschini, Nevada County chief deputy coroner, said. Most victims in 2006 and 2007 were men, and the majority of them used a gun to end their lives, according to data presented by Valceschini. Suicides through multiple drug ingestion are also common in Nevada County, Valceschini said.



“Suicide affects people of all ages,” Valceschini said. “I was shocked when I first found a child had committed suicide.”

Valceschini urged attendees to consider “how much pain these people are in when they choose to take their lives.”




“I was 13 in 2004 when I first tried to kill myself,” said Cara Krpalek, who attended the meeting. “I was trying to slash my wrists to get my dad to ask me what was wrong. I just wanted someone to sit me down and shake it out of me.”

Parents need to pay more attention to what their children are doing, Krpalek said.

“A lot of parents don’t think their child would hurt herself,” she said. “But parents need to be aware that their wonderful, little child could suffer from some problem.”

Gail and Steve Beeman, parents of suicide victim Chris Beeman, drew attention to social factors that can push a suicidal person off the edge.

Steve Beeman pointed out the discrepancy that while teachers teach teenagers at school how to use a condom or get an abortion, no one counsels them about suicide or depression.

Life experiences such as a breakup in a relationship could also prompt a young person to kill himself, said Gail Beeman.

Chris Beeman was 20 years old when he leapt to his death from the 730-foot Foresthill Bridge outside Auburn. Chris Beeman had received an under-21 DUI with a low alcohol count, lost his driver’s license and had broken up with his girlfriend shortly before his death.

“Communication is what a depressed person needs,” Gail Beeman said at the meeting. “Don’t let your friends drink when they are depressed. But if they do, don’t leave them alone.”

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail ssen@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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