As your community paper, it is an honor to share the many good things in the community and to also speak frankly about the serious issues our community faces. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing news about exciting changes coming to Up & Coming Weekly. This week, though, Dr. Shanessa Fenner weighs in on an important topic: suicide prevention. It’s a serious issue, one that our publisher, Bill Bowman considers worthy of this space.
Stephanie Crider, Associate Publisher
The struggle is real. I remember it like it was yesterday. My phone rang and a good friend was on the other end. She told me she wanted to kill herself. I immediately began talking to her and praying at the same time. It was scary but the right words came out of my mouth at the right time. I am so glad I answered the phone. Nearly 43,000 Americans die by suicide every year.
Feb. 5 – 11 is Cumberland County Schools’ Suicide Prevention Week.
“We want to raise awareness to a topic that is considered taboo and a lot of people do not like to talk about it, but the irony of that is the easiest way to save someone’s life is to ask and show that you care,” said Dr. Natasha Scott, executive director of student services for Cumberland County Schools. “It is okay to ask someone who is thinking about killing themselves if they are okay. And if you are thinking about suicide yourself, it is okay to ask for help.” Scott added this is one of the best interventions for helping someone who may be suicidal.
“Feb. 8 has been designated as Suicide Awareness Day and we are asking everyone to wear the colors purple and turquoise,” said Scott. “Those are the national colors for suicide prevention, so we are asking people to wear these colors and take a selfie holding a sign saying, 'It is okay to ask for help.'” Scott added that they are going to use all of the photos to create a photo gallery.
This is another way to share valuable information on CCS’ webpage in a neat way and continue to promote the theme. Business leaders, community leaders, educators, parents and students are asked to participate in this initiative.
Cumberland County’s district office has planned training for all of the principals and central service staff on how to recognize the signs of suicide and to know when and how to get help. Some of the signs that may indicate a person is considering suicide include giving away important possessions, doing poorly in school, not wanting to do things they used to love to do, having an unusual interest in death or violence, a change in friendships, being bullied, mood swings or a change in personality, a change in eating and sleeping habits and a struggle with gender identity. “There is a myth that if you talk about suicide it will put the idea in someone’s head and that someone who was not thinking about suicide may become suicidal because you asked,” said Scott. “This is a myth and always pay attention to the people that are around you because you never know what is going on with them and it is okay to ask.”
For more information call 678-2433. If you know someone or if you are contemplating suicide please call 1 (800) 273-8255.