The first annual Suicide Prevention forum in southwest Bakersfield encouraged everyone to break the stigma and get the help they need.

Amber Smithson with Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital says suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 34 and has increased 33% over the past two years. Smithson says every age group and race is affected by the problem, but veterans and people in rural areas are most at-risk because they may not have access to services.

Smithson says some of the deaths may be driven by social media, which constantly bombards people with unrealistic images.

Those at Thursday’s event were urged to step in if they see warning signs like reckless behavior, giving away possessions, or talking about death.

Kelli Pierce