Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt, according to the World Health Organization.
In Pennsylvania, one person dies by suicide every five hours, making it the second leading cause of death for ages 25-34 and the third leading cause of death for ages 10-24.
Behind these statistics are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors and community members who, for one reason or another, questioned the value of their own lives.
Communities play a vital role in supporting those who are vulnerable. This sentiment is reflected in the theme of the 2017 World Suicide Prevention Day: “Take a minute, change a life.”
As members of communities, it is our responsibility to reach out to help those who might be struggling. By listening in a nonjudgmental way and creating environments of acceptance and appreciation for one another, we can make a world of difference in the lives of people around us.
Suicide is complex, with psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors involved. Connectedness is crucial to individuals who might be vulnerable to suicide.
Studies have shown that social isolation can increase the risk of suicide and, conversely, that having strong human bonds can be protective against it. Reaching out to those who have become disconnected from others and offering them support and friendship may be a lifesaving act.
In September, Jana Marie Foundation encourages you to join community efforts to raise awareness for suicide prevention.
The foundation will host its fifth annual Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day event on Sept. 10: “Forget Not: An Evening of Hope, Healing and Remembrance and Community Dinner.”
The free event will begin at 5:15 p.m. at Millbrook Marsh, 548 Puddintown Road in State College, with a complimentary community dinner sponsored by Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, followed by inspirational and moving performances at 6:30 p.m.
Community art from various Jana Marie Foundation programs will be on exhibit throughout the event. The evening will conclude at 8 p.m. with a candle lighting ceremony, part of a worldwide commemoration. The day is sponsored by Jana Marie Foundation, AFSP of Central PA, Active Minds at Penn State and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. Please RSVP to Jana Marie Foundation by email or phone.
In addition, the foundation will host a Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Prevention Training Program from 9 a.m.-noon on Sept. 19. The course presents a three-step action plan to assist those closest to you who might be experiencing a mental health crisis. The cost is $5, and the course is open to the public.
On Sept. 28, Jana Marie Foundation will continue its Mokita Dialogues series with a session focused on suicide and the myths and stigma that surround the topic. The luncheon series is held at New Leaf Initiative from noon to 1 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
To learn about these events and others, please visit www.janamariefoundation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marisa Vicere is the president and founder of the Jana Marie Foundation. She can be reached at email@example.com.