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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Suicide Prevention Kit Offered for Russian Speakers

New York is introducing a Russian-language suicide prevention kit this week in a reflection of the state's ethnic diversity.

The state office of mental health introduced a Chinese-language suicide prevention, education and awareness kit last year and also offers it in Spanish and English. The office is developing one in Creole for the Haitian community, said Jill Daniels, a New York State Office of Mental Health spokeswoman.

Daniels said the five languages are ones for which the agency gets the most requests.

The agency did not have statistics on suicide rates for the various groups.

But Russian-speaking countries have the highest suicide rates in the world. Russia has the third-highest suicide rate in the world, with 32 people in every 100,000 killing themselves per year, according to the State Statistics Service figures from 2005, the most recent year available. The leader is Lithuania, followed by Belarus. Kazakhstan is fourth.

Daniels said the kits were not being offered because of more suicides among Russian-speakers. "We're trying to make it available to all communities in their own languages," she said.

Pat Singer of the Brighton Neighborhood Association, which provides social and quality-of-life services to the Russian population in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach area, said that in her 30 years as founder and executive director she had never been aware of a suicide.

Alcoholism and smoking are very evident among the population, she said, as is some depression among the middle-aged. Her clients tend to be emotional "but not to the point of killing themselves," Singer said. "They're survivors. They're a tough group of people."

Deaths by suicide, both in New York state and nationally, outnumber deaths by homicide, the agency said. About 1,300 New Yorkers take their own lives each year. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, it said.

AP, MT