Altadena is home to about 43,000 residents. The crime rate is generally low, including when it comes to violent crimes, including home invasions. There are about four home burglaries of all types, with about 25 percent of that total being home invasions in Altadena on a monthly basis.
Although Altadena bests much of Los Angeles County when it comes to crime, that does not mean that the community is without its own share of other challenging issues. For example, as seems to be happening in much of the country, the suicide rate in Altadena has been on the upswing.
Suicide in Altadena
Altadena has seen about a 20 percent increase in the number of suicides in the community each year. About a half dozen people take their lives in Altadena annually. The suicide rate among teenagers has been particularly increasing in the past decade, in Altadena and across the United States, according to data collected by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among white children, there has been a 70 percent increase in suicides from 2006 to 2016. Among black children, the increase has been even more significant at 77 percent. Thus far, there is no indication that the suicide rate generally, nor among young people, is dipping or will drop anytime soon.
The most common ways individuals in Altadena take their lives are:
- Drug overdose
More women than men appear to utilize drugs or medications to take their lives. Sometimes this is mixed with alcohol. More men in Altadena utilize firearms or knives when it comes to suicide. There are a few cases in which an Altadena resident made the short trip to Pasadena to jump from the infamous Colorado Street Bridge. The bridge is also known as the Suicide Bridge because of the significant number of people who have jumped to their deaths from the location. This includes one of the more recent suicides reported at the bridge, which involves a teenage girl.
Traumatic Suicide in Altadena
Over the course of the past decade, more than a couple dozen suicides in Altadena have taken place in a residential setting and involved the use of a knife or firearm. These type of deaths present unique complications for surviving family members and friends. In addition to personal grief (and other emotions), a traumatic suicide raises the specter for what is known as a suicide cleanup or a biohazard cleanup.
When a suicide occurs in as a result of a gun or blade, blood and other bodily fluids must be addressed. Because of the release of blood and other bodily fluids, exposure to bloodborne pathogens can be a risk. This may include viruses and bacteria that cause diseases that include:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
Professional biohazard cleanup should be considered in this type of situation. The reality is that a biohazard cleanup professional understands the steps to take to properly, efficiently, and effectively undertake a suicide cleanup. This includes the use of proper personal protective equipment, also known as PPE. Proper PPE should include:
- Mask or respirator
- Apron or uniform
These must all be designed specifically to protect against biohazards. A recent California case resulted in an award of hundreds of millions of dollars when it was demonstrated that smocks marketed as being suitable to protect against biohazards were not so designed.
Delayed Discovery of a Suicide
One instance of suicide in Altadena involved a man who lived alone and shot himself. His body was not discovered for over a week and initially was classified both as an unattended death and a suspected suicide. The LA Sheriff’s Altadena Station, as well as the LA Coroner, were involved in the investigation.
Within 24 hours, the cause of death was confirmed as being a suicide. The delay in discovering the death added additional challenges in regard to the matter of the suicide cleanup.
The fact that the decomposition process had been underway for over a week rendered the presence of dangerous pathogens a reality. During the decomposition process, dangerous airborne and bloodborne pathogens are released into the surrounding area. This reality only underscores the necessity of assistance from a professional biohazard cleanup specialist.
Support for Altadena Suicide Survivors
Suicide is described as being “a death like no other” by Psychology Today. There are special support services and resources for survivors of suicide. A directory of these resources, including those accessible to residents of Altadena, can be found at the American Association of Suicidology.
Support for Altadena Residents Thinking of Suicide
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours a day for individuals who might be contemplating suicide, as well as their loved ones. The Hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).