September is suicide prevention month

“It’s the secret that kills.”

That, said Family Services of Warren County (FSWC) therapist Jada DeLoof, is the message she’s hoping to send this Monday, Sept. 10, which is World Suicide Prevention Day.

That is the day that FSWC has set for what DeLoof and the rest of the staff at the agency hope will be a long tradition: the Stand Up To Support Suicide Prevention Community Photo.

The event is one that DeLoof said she saw on the website for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and wanted to bring to Warren County. The idea, said DeLoof, is to get as many people as possible together for a group photo.

A photo commemorating what?

Commemorating that they care about the issue of suicide and are passionate about preventing suicide.

Part of what makes suicidal ideation such an insidious issue to grapple with, said DeLoof, is that a sense of stigma and attendant silence surrounds it.

The only way that those struggling with the impulse to harm themselves will feel comfortable to start talking about their thoughts rather than acting on them is to begin breaking down some of that stigma and creating a community around the issue.

“You can tell people (who are dealing with suicidal ideation) that there are people who care,” said DeLoof.

The photo, she said, is a way to take the inevitable follow-up up question–“who is it that cares?”–and show the person in crisis concrete evidence.

The photo is open to “absolutely anyone” in the community who wants to go on record as being supportive of the effort to reduce stigma surrounding suicide, said DeLoof. She said that FSWC is encouraging private citizens, businesses, and government agencies to meet at Soldiers and Sailors Park – the location of Music in the Park in downtown Warren – at 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 10.

Family Services is not the only agency getting in on the suicide awareness mission for the Month of September which is National Suicide Prevention Month. One of the area’s newest nonprofits – Choosing Openness Regarding Experiences (CORE) – is cohosting the community photo on Monday, but they are also hosting a golf scramble on Sunday and suicide prevention walk from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22 at War Memorial Field on Lexington Ave. in Warren.

The “Life is Glow-rious” walk will feature free glow in the dark tee-shirts to the first 30 participants to register, glow bracelets and necklaces, raffles, entertainment by Molly Dies’ Dance Express, hot dogs, chips, and drinks, said CORE founder Kari Swanson.

Those attending are encouraged to wear glow in the dark clothing and jewelry, said Swanson, and can expect to learn more about the statistics surrounding the issue of suicide as they participate in the run/walk event.

The walk is hosted by CORE, Forest Warren Mental Wellness Association and Systems of Care, FSWC, and the Let’s Talk About It program.

Ultimately, said both Swanson and DeLoof, what needs to happen is that those struggling with suicidal ideation need to know that there is a community of interested, compassionate, educated, empathetic, and concerned people in their area who want to see them win the battle against the urge toward self-destruction.

When there’s no longer stigma, said DeLoof, those suffering will be able to overcome the shame that comes with the issue and instead choose to advocate for themselves or at least, she said, ask for the help they need to get through the days until they’re able to stand against thoughts of suicide more independently.

Learn more about Family Services of Warren County or CORE by finding them on Facebook or visiting fswc.org.

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