Coping with suicide: local groups offer help, comfort

Autopsy results released Wednesday listed Dundee mother Jennifer Huston death as suicide

A sign on the Vista Bridge, which is often called the Suicide Bridge, encourages people to seek help from Lines for Life, August 6, 2014. (KOIN 6)
A sign on the Vista Bridge, which is often called the Suicide Bridge, encourages people to seek help from Lines for Life, August 6, 2014. (KOIN 6)

DUNDEE, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The autopsy results released Wednesday on Dundee mother Jennifer Huston listed her death as a suicide.

The State Medical Examiner’s Officer said she died of asphyxiation. Oregon’s latest statistics reveal nearly 700 people committed suicide in 2011.

Huston’s family said in a statement that they “don’t know what led her to this dark place.” Volunteers at Lines for Life, a top Portland prevention group, said battling unanswered questions like that is good enough reason to reach out for help.

Volunteers respond to some 17,000 calls related to suicide a year. Supervisor Morgan Leets has worked for Lines for Life for two years.

“When I found out there was a place where people can reach out to, I wanted to be a part of that,” said Leets.

She said the phones are always staffed and the 150 volunteers endure 60 hours of training to help anyone coping with suicide.

“Reach out for support, reach out for help, talk to someone,” Leets recommended. “The pain from losing something, especially losing them to suicide is not something you should have to deal with alone, ever.”

“It was a terrible shock,” said Kenneth Kahn, whose longtime friend committed suicide last year around the same time the fence Kahn supported was installed on the Vista Bridge. It’s often called the Suicide Bridge.

Kahn’s office is at the bottom, and he said he has witnessed about eight suicides in just as many years.

“There’s sometimes no way to comfortably talk about the emotional rubble that’s left behind when someone kills themselves,” said Kahn, who sought counseling after his friend’s death.

He recommended that Jennifer Huston’s family reaches out to local resources, too, like Lines for Life.

“My heart reaches out to them, and I wish them nothing but compassion,” said Kahn.

While it can be tough, Leets encourages talking about the topic because it could save a life.

“We cover anything that you might need support on,” said Leets.

Numerous sources are available to those in need of help or support:

  • Lines for Life –
  • Suicide Lifeline – 800-273-TALK
  • Alcohol & Drug Helpline – 800-923-HELP
  • Military Helpline – 888-457-4838 or text MIL1 to 839836
  • Youthline – 877-968-8491 or text teen2teen to 839863

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