FREDERICTON (CNB) - Suicide prevention is the focus of a provincial campaign being undertaken throughout February, Suicide Prevention Month.

Health Minister Michael Murphy announced today the start of the Be Connected To Life campaign.

"I urge all New Brunswickers to be involved in efforts to prevent suicide," Murphy said. "By assisting those who need to get professional help, each of us can make a truly positive difference in the lives of others - and lives might well be saved as a result."

The centrepiece of the campaign is a radio message that began airing provincewide on Feb. 2. The message features the voice of a distressed man who needs to seek professional help to overcome his difficulties.

The concept was developed from research on suicides in New Brunswick. The same study recommended raising public awareness of the importance of persuading individuals in distress to seek help and follow through with professional services.

The initiative is being supported by 14 suicide prevention committees that organize community activities; and suicide prevention and intervention training for professionals and non-professionals.

About 100 New Brunswickers commit suicide each year. The risk of suicide is higher among men between 20 and 40, young people, seniors, and those who have lost someone close through suicide.

For more information on suicide prevention, visit www.gnb.ca/health or www.suicideprevention.ca; or contact your local mental health centre.