Centre County events bring light to suicide issue

Two local events this week will illuminate the issue of suicide, providing support to those who have lost loved ones and offering educational opportunities for the community.

Shanon Quick, co-chairwoman of the Out of the Darkness Walk to be held locally in the spring, noted that a suicide occurs in this country every 12.7 minutes. There were 39,000 U.S. suicides in 2010, the latest national data available, she said.

“That number is increasing,” she said. “This is an issue that impacts our youth, our young adults, our productive adult population, the elderly. And it really impacts our veterans.”

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week runs through Saturday. Local events include:

•  Tuesday: “An Evening of Hope, Healing and Remembrance,” 6:30-8 p.m., Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, College Township; an evening of music, poetry and support activities, with a candle-lighting at 8 p.m. to correspond with a moment of remembrance worldwide.

•  Thursday: “Suicide Prevention: Saving Lives One Community At A Time,” 6-8:30 p.m., Match Factory, Bellefonte; will feature tips on how to recognize and react to signs of suicide risk, and the showing of the award-winning local film “Toward Daylight” followed by a panel discussion.

Centre County commissioners last week declared Tuesday to be Suicide Prevention Awareness Day in the county.

“This is really about bringing the issues of suicide out of the darkness and into the light and opening up the dialogue so that people feel safe talking about it,” Quick said. “We have to ask ourselves: How do we as a community come together and help people?”

The events are sponsored by the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Jana Marie Foundation.