CLINTON, Conn. (WTNH) — September is National Suicide Awareness Month. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and is something most people are afraid to discuss.

The town of Clinton opened a dialogue Wednesday night at a community-wide meeting. 

There is a heavy stigma surrounding the topic of suicide, but town employees felt this was something they needed to address.

More than a hundred people signed up to attend, more than anyone expected.

The meeting was held at Jared Eliot Middle School, where town employees spoke about suicide and how to prevent it.

Suicide has been a prominent issue in Clinton, first raised in 2017 when the University of Connecticut released a study looking at teen suicide.

Researchers found there were more than 1,800 suicide attempts among teens ages 15-19 from 2010-2014 in Clinton.

“It has certainly been something that has affected the whole town, it has been heart-wrenching in so many ways,” said David Melillo, director of human services for the town of Clinton. Melillo said the rate has decreased since then.

But over the past few years, the town has seen tragedy after tragedy, mostly among young and middle-aged men. 

“I’m of the belief that men get socialized to be tough, to be hard, to not be a wimp, to not ask for help, to not show their feelings, other than anger,” Melillo said.

Ann Dagle of the Brian Dagle Foundation led the discussion Tuesday night.

Her son died by suicide in 2011, which led her to start a suicide prevention foundation in Niantic.

She said isolation from the pandemic has led more people to contemplate suicide. She wants people to know the warning signs about suicide – and what you can say – to help someone who may be in crisis.  

“Look, I see something is going on with you, I’ve noticed a lot of things going on in your life, and it looks like you’re struggling, are you struggling, how can I help? It’s not an easy conversation to have but it can save a life,” Dagle said.

The town is also offering training sessions on a method called QPR, question, persuade, refer.

It’s a step people can learn to help save a life from suicide.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.