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Anyone who says suicide is a long-term solution to a short-term problem has never slipped into that blackest hole of hell, or has never listened — really listened — to someone who found their way out.

Recent deaths of people connected to mass shootings - two students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the father of a Newtown victim - have again brought suicide to the front page.

Indeed, the topic is become so frequent that we are repeating much of an editorial we published last June, after the high-profile deaths of chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade.

Experts in psychiatry and counseling continue to share warning signs; social service workers again beg people to use hotlines for themselves, or to seek help for those in distress.

The most recent suicides were attributed likely to post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by the mass shootings. Yet, the reaction from friends and family was all too common: the person seemed down, but not enough to want to die. Like people who cover up their alcoholism, drug abuse or habitual theft, those considering suicide may keep those thoughts completely to themselves to avoid the stigma of "needing help." For others, the demons of mental illness have been all too obvious for far too long.

Either way, left behind are caring friends and loving family members who forever will question what more they could have done.

Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2018 story by Lee News Service said rates have been climbing for years: There were 44,965 suicide deaths in 2016, with a 30 percent increase from 1999 to 2016.

If someone you know is having difficulty with day-to-day living, listen to them and watch for signs: Have they lost interest in their favorite activities? Have there been major changes in their eating and sleeping habits? Is it hard for them to concentrate or make decisions? Do they talk about feeling worthless or hopeless? Offer to listen and don't judge their answers. If you're not sure what to do, talk to their doctor or call 211 for guidance.

If you're the one in pain, talk to a trusted friend, family member, teacher or coworker. There are people who want to help, and medicine and counseling that can ease your pain.

Call 211 for the crisis and social services referral hotline operated by PATH. Help also is available through the Center for Human Services, 309-827-5351, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255

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