Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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May 17, 2014

Help nearby for those contemplating suicide

NEW ALBANY (AP) — After 11 years of reflection, Mike Mudd Sr. still can't understand why his brother Stephen took his life on that first day of spring 2003.

Yes, Stephen had problems. Alcohol had long been a factor in some of the difficulties. On occasion, Mudd said his younger brother didn't feel very good about himself, as if Stephen thought he was unworthy of love.

Not once, though, did he mention to Mudd that he ever wanted to die. Nor did he exhibit any of the other warning signs in front of his brother.

How these feelings morphed into Stephen, at only 49 years old, committing suicide at the bottom of his Virginia driveway is something that the Clarksville resident can't comprehend.

"The one question I always have is what propels you to get to that point in your life where you choose to take your own life. How do you get there? How does that happen?" Mudd told the News and Tribune (http://bit.ly/1hTHCza ). "And that's what we'll never know."

Mudd, 64, isn't alone in his wondering.

Every year, about 38,000 people in the United States commit suicide. More than 100 men and women die this way each day, leaving behind friends and family members to ask why and ponder if they could have done something to prevent their deaths.

"The thing I can't grasp and can't get over and I can't get through is the fact that I couldn't do anything to stop him, and as his older brother, I should have been able to have done something," Mudd said. "That will haunt me to the grave."

Affecting people of all social and economic classes, the consequences of suicide can be felt as much in small towns as they can in big cities. Right here in Clark and Floyd counties, 126 people took their own lives between 2006 through 2010, according to the Indiana State Department of Health's Suicide in Indiana report. During the same period of time, 530 patients in these counties visited emergency departments due to suicide attempts. Underreporting by survivors caused by stigma and shame can skew the real numbers. Many believe the true figure to be much higher.

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