Penn State Worthington tackles suicide
BY MEGHAN DAVIS (STAFF WRITER)
Published: September 22, 2011
After his 17-year-old son, Joshua, took his own life in 2003, Ron Pappalarado made it his mission to ensure that no family would go through what his did.
The venture resulted in an amazing journey of self-discovery and healing that led Mr. Pappalarado to write a book and travel nationwide in hopes of spreading his message.
At noon on Wednesday at the Penn State Worthington Scranton campus, Mr. Pappalarado spoke to a crowd of students, faculty and representatives from local school districts about suicide and how important it is to become aware.
He started out with the facts.
"This year, there will be over 32,000 suicides in the United States," he said, "with at least 10 times as many attempts at suicide. One out of every 12 college students will attempt suicide."
According to the American Association of Suicidology, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 and the 11th-leading cause of death overall.
Because of the increasing prevalence of suicide among college-age adults, campus nurse Jill Thoman thought now was a good time to bring Mr. Pappalarado to the college to speak to students.
"This man has experience on a personal level," she said.
Mr. Pappalardo attributes many of the suicides to depression.
"If we defeat depression," he said to his audience. "We defeat suicide." He said five major factors contribute to suicide, including family history, access to guns, previous suicide attempts, alcohol and drug abuse and stressful situations.
Mr. Pappalardo urged those present who suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts, or know someone who does, to take advantage of the suicide prevention hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
His son's suicide has led Mr. Pappalardo to focus on what's truly important.
"I think experiencing a traumatic loss forces people to reprioritize what's really important - relationships, family and love," he said.
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Author helps people deal with suicide
By Shawn Daley, Editor
.The date August 11, 2003 will forever remain deeply etched into the heart and soul of Ron Pappalardo. It was on that day that his eldest child, Joshua, committed suicide at the age of 17.