Suicides up 23 percent this year in York County

YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – The York County coroner reports suicides are up 23 percent from this time last year. It’s the second leading cause of death in the county behind drug overdoses.

“He was always there to help somebody who was hurting,” said Bruce Bartz, a retired Hellam Township police officer.

Bruce Bartz’s son, U.S. Army Cpl. Trent Bartz, stood six feet two inches tall. His heart matched his height.

“He was all about his friends and taking care of his battle buddies out in the field too,” Bartz said. “He just had the biggest heart. The problem was I don’t think he took care of himself.”

Cpl. Bartz showed some signs of depression as a child, but his father thought he was okay.

“I came home, and I found Trent in the laundry room of our house,” Bartz said.

The 20-year-old had taken his own life.

“Some of our adult males who complete suicide have a military background,” York County Coroner Pam Gay said.

Gay has seen 78 suicide deaths this year. 63 people had taken their own life at this time last year. The county had 70 suicides in all of 2016 and 67 in 2015. Gay thinks more people are dealing with mental health issues and are getting better at hiding it.

“They’re not open with people, and they can hide it,” Gay said. “They can hide their depression, or they can hide what’s really going on in their life. They go to work every day.”

Those at Suicide Prevention of York say if you suspect a loved one is suicidal, talk to him or her about it. Seek out treatment from a mental health provider or counselor if needed.

“Most people that die by suicide don’t want to die. They really just want the pain to end, and they just want people to listen to them,” said Cindy Richard, founder of Suicide Prevention of York.

Richard says signs of being suicidal can vary by age.

“An adult might not want to go to work and use up all their sick time,” Richard said. “A child may start getting bad grades in school.”

Bartz has a message for those who may suspect someone they know has suicidal thoughts.

“This is a conversation that needs to be had, and we can’t hide how people are feeling. We want to make it comfortable for people that are hurting to come out, talk about this, and be able to get the help that they need.”

Bartz founded a group in his son’s honor. Bartz Brigade raises money to help with suicide prevention and education in York County.

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