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Answers sought after 3rd parking garage suicide

Posted at 6:53 PM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 07:32:27-05

An emergency meeting is being called after a third person in less than two years took their life by jumping from a parking garage in Bel Air.

One of the people leading the charge to keep it from happening again has first hand experience of the hurt left behind by such a tragedy.

Jamie Filiaggi, who's wife Danyelle jumped from the garage in October 2014, started the Friends R Family Foundation in her honor and also sponsors a 5k family walk in her honor.

"I just felt that if it could happen to me it certainly could happen to anybody else," Filiaggi said.

Related: Friends R Family Foundation raises awareness to mental health

The foundation, through efforts in raising awareness for mental illness, has worked to keep such a suicde from happening again.

Filiaggi said his organization helped post signs in the Bel Air parking garage that read "you are not alone," and inform people they can call the Maryland Crisis hotline, as well as the Harfrord County Mobile Crisis Team.

But he said he recognizes the signs alone are not enough.

After his wife's death in 2014, two more people have died in apparent suicides at the parking garage. The latest happened Monday morning when Bel Air Police say a person jumped to their death.

See also: Suicide reported at Bel Air parking garage

"We recognize that we need more in the garage," he said.

The garage is owned by both Harford County and the Town of Bel Air and Bel Air Town Administrator Jesse Bane said three measures are being considered to keep anyone else from jumping.

At a cost of at least $300,000, officials can can surround the top of the five-floor garage in fencing. They're also looking into adding an alarm system to let people know when someone is trying to jump or adding more cameras to better monitor activity.

Bane could not say when a decision would be reached, saying the decision "must be made right" and he didn't want to rush into it. Any solutions decided on must go through a procurement process, Bane said.

Meanwhile the Harford County Health Department is working to let people know, not only that there is help available, but also where people can find it, according to Paula Nash with the health department. 

"We hope to reach out to businesses, civic organizations, community organizations, schools, employers to help train people to identify suicide risk," Nash said.

Twenty-six people took their own lives in Harford County in 2013, and Nash and Filiaggi want more people to know how to reach out for help.

"We want people to recognize there's help, resources while you're healthy, while you can make clear decisions," Filiaggi said.

If you or someone you know is looking for suicide prevention resources, you can contact the Maryland Crisis Hotline at 1-800-422-0009 or the Harford County Mobile Crisis Team at 410-638-5248.

The Friends R Family Foundation is holding its second annual 5k walk on April 10. You can learn more about the organization by visiting their website friendsrfamily.org.

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