Suicide a Problem in Alabama, Nationwide

it's not something we usually talk about during the holidays, But suicide is a major issue.

When December rolls around, times get especially tough.

"It's a major health problem in Alabama, it's a problem in our country," explained Dr. Don Williamson, State Health Officer.

The Centers for Disease Control report more than 30,000 suicide cases each year.  According to documents from the Alabama Department of Public Health, 573 Alabamians took their own lives in 2006.

Those numbers mean a little more than 12 deaths per every 100,000 people, well above the national average.

Health experts say this time of year certainly doesn't help.

"People who are alone on the holidays certainly may find themselves more depressed than people who have family and friends," Williamson said.

A surprising statistic from ADPH shows more cases of suicide (573) than murder (435) in 2006.

"We tend to take our own lives more than we take other people's lives," Williamson acknowledged.

How do we curb the numbers and prevent this from happening?  First responders say it's as easy as picking up the phone.

"There are too many agencies in the River Region now to say there's no help.  There's help everywhere if you want to take that step," explained Chaplain Nick Sebastian of the Montgomery Fire Department.

It's a very difficult--but necessary--step to take.

"If they're contemplating some type of suicidal ideation, then they need some sort of medical assistance so they don't find themselves in the same situation again," Williamson explained.

If you need help, or know someone who may be contemplating suicide, please don't hesitate to call the state's crisis line at 1-800-273-TALK.

Reporter:  Cody Holyoke