2018-07-07 / Front Page

Suicide prevention mission continues

By Ally Gribble and Bill Pekarski
Endeavor News

Suicide has touched the lives of many friends and loved ones in local communities. They are left behind to wonder if they could have done something differently to prevent such an extreme and tragic act. It’s now the second-leading cause of death for Americans ages 10-24.

Depression, if left untreated, is the number one cause. Four out of five victims showed clear warning signs.

Because suicide is, in many cases, preventable, there are active organizations in both Potter and Cameron counties geared toward promoting public education and awareness.

Potter County Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program was launched more than a decade ago, with then-President Judge John Leete as its driving force. Yellow Ribbon clubs were established in local schools and Dickinson Center Inc. along with volunteers provided support services.

School-based chapters drive home the point that “it’s okay to ask for help.” They also inform students of steps they can take to help friends who could be at risk of committing suicide.

  “Membership has fallen off somewhat, but the program still exists in area schools,” Leete told Endeavor News. “We hope to begin a membership push when school returns to session this fall and increase awareness. It is vitally important that we keep working to identify troubled youth and get them help when it is needed.”

“Suicide takes thousands of lives per year, including so many irreplaceable young people,” he continued.

“Our Project Yellow Ribbon chapter was born of tragedy, but is full of hope. Our message is, there is always a way out, a way back from whatever problems a person may be facing.

There are always people who care and are willing to help. You are not alone.” Potter County Crisis Hotline is available 24/7 for anyone who needs help at 1-800-652-0562.

Meanwhile, Cameron County School District continues to take measures to prevent suicide and meet students’ mental health needs. The district has renewed agreements for the 2018-19 school year with Dickinson Center Inc. to continue operation of the Student Assistance, Signs of Suicide (SOS) and LIFE/Incredible

Right: Tana Funair, suicide prevention program director for Dickinson Center Inc., introduced Don Hockman at a teacher in-service day. Hockman’s son, Seth, took his own life in May 2015. He courageously shared his experiences in the hope that other suicides can be prevented through early identification of warning signs. Left: Loss of three teenaged boys to suicide over a short time span inspired Potter County Judge John Leete to spearhead a local Project Yellow Rib- bon Suicide Prevention Group chapter more than a decade ago.Right: Tana Funair, suicide prevention program director for Dickinson Center Inc., introduced Don Hockman at a teacher in-service day. Hockman’s son, Seth, took his own life in May 2015. He courageously shared his experiences in the hope that other suicides can be prevented through early identification of warning signs. Left: Loss of three teenaged boys to suicide over a short time span inspired Potter County Judge John Leete to spearhead a local Project Yellow Rib- bon Suicide Prevention Group chapter more than a decade ago.
Years programs.

SOS targets students in grades 7-12 to help them recognize symptoms of depression and suicidal signals. The program gives students tools to use if some­one appears to be suicidal, through the ACT concept, an acronym for “acknowl­edge the problem, respond with care, and tell a trusted adult.”

Students are advised that they should not keep secret someone’s plan to hurt him­self. Ninety-five percent of the individuals considering suicide won’t take action if someone is with them.

To learn more about suicide prevention services offered by Dickinson Center Inc., call 834-2602.

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