Suicide Prevention Presentation being held to break barriers around mental health and suicide
QUINCY (WGEM) - In an effort to open the door for conversations and break the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide, the Adams County Suicide Prevention Coalition is hosting a Youth Suicide Prevention Presentation at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at John Wood Community College.
The Adams County Suicide Prevention Coalition is comprised of human service organizations, educational institutions and concerned citizens. They offer resources and support to the community to help prevent suicide.
Suicide loss survivor and Adams County Suicide Prevention Coalition Dawn Whitcomb said there’s not just one reason why a person would commit suicide.
“Suicide is very complicated and you know, it’s not just one that fits in a box kind of thing you know, many people take their lives for different reasons,” Whitcomb said.
An explanation like this comes 7 years after Whitcomb’s son took his own life. Now, she continues to spread his story in hopes of breaking down the stigma surrounding suicide.
“You know, if we don’t have these conversations about these difficult topics, how can we help those people?” Whitcomb said.
Whitcomb pushes for parent education in mental health and suicide through events like the one they will hold on Thursday.
“Knowledge is power and the more knowledge we have the more empowering we are to help people,” Whitcomb said.
Officials said education is key in knowing the warning signs.
A film film following the life of a young woman after she attempts to take her own life will be shown at the presentation, as well as an open conversation with a discussion panel filled with different voices and perspectives.
The 90 minute film is a feature length documentary called My Ascension. The film follows the life of a 16-year-old varsity cheerleader named Emma Benoit after a suicide attempt left her paralyzed. The film highlights Emma’s second chance and new perspective on life, while also diving into the lives of two other young people who did not survive their attempts.
My Ascension allows viewers to learn first-hand from their families, friends, schools officials and suicide prevention experts about the devastating effects of suicide and what can be done to help prevent it.
“We feel like it’s really important to share this movie with our surrounding counties and Adams County so that people can talk about a difficult subject and you know, know that there is hope and that there is healing beyond that” Whitcomb said. “How can we help each other? How can we you know, see the warning signs and not walk this journey alone? Cause you know, at any time I think we’re all breakable at some point.”
Despite JWCC being one of the few community colleges to invest in mental health resources, like an on campus counselor, this past school year, they saw a total of 10 students hospitalized due to extreme mental health.
JWCC Coordinator of Counseling Services Teresa Bertelli believes simply starting the conversation could save a life.
“Were seeing a lot of crisis and a lot of students that are dealing with basic needs like transportation, food, housing, relationship issues is a big one, people who are dealing with break-ups, divorce, domestic violence, grief, so the list goes on and on,” Bertelli said. “Making it taboo gives it a lot of power and so when we have events like this, it just makes people more comfortable to talk about their own experiences or talk about their own feelings or feel valid for what they’re going through.”
Bertelli said the purpose of events like this are to teach people what to look out for, when to be concerned and how you can get help.
“It goes back to support systems and in order to get through mental health struggles a support system is key and so is having a family and friends that understand,” Bertelli said. “Even if they don’t understand letting them know what you need and how they can help is crucial.”
Bertelli said that with constant conversation, state funding will continue and mental health will be prioritized and more resources will be made accessible for all.
Whitcomb said along with students, parents, teachers and anyone who works with the youth and young adults are encouraged to come to the event. There they can learn more about the signs of suicide and mental health and how to approach the heavy conversations.
The event is free and will be held in the Mary Ellen Orr Auditorium at JWCC. Refreshments start at 6 p.m. and the film starts at 6:30 p.m. Registration is not required.
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