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"We surround them with a message of hope:" Local groups providing support after recent high-profile suicide deaths

WEST BEND (CBS 58) -- The last reported suicide rate in Wisconsin is actually higher than the national average.

That's why local groups want to make sure people know they're here to help.

The CDC says nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide in 2016.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office says they investigated a record number of 156 suicides in 2017 -- an almost 40 percent increase from 2016.

Life of Hope in Washington County offers suicide prevention services. They say they've served 70 people in the past three years and haven't lost one to suicide.

"We use bright colors, we use a seven pound Pomeranian dog that says hey, you know what, this is how we live. We bring smiles and bring hugs to those who are in need. We surround them with a message of hope. Something that they've probably lost sight of recently," said Deeatra Kajfosz, Founder, Life of Hope.

"By keeping silent, by not talking, we really are feeding the negative stigma around suicide. It is through our ignorance, simply not knowing enough about the topic that we continue to fuel those losses," she said. 

Click here for more information on suicide prevention.

Click here to learn more about Life of Hope.

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