September is Suicide Awareness Month

Suicide awareness
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September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in Franklin County. County Commissoner’s are using the month as a way to come together as a community to learn about, and bring awareness to, suicide prevention methods.

Suicide awareness
Photo, left to right: Attendees joining via Google Meet, Commissioner Chairman Dave Keller, Cori Seilhammer – Mental Health Program Specialist, Commissioner John Flannery, Sheldon Schwartz-chair of the Franklin/Fulton MH/IDD/EI Advisory Board, and Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski. (Franklin County photo)

A collaboration between the Franklin County Coroner’s Office, the Department of Emergency Services, Keystone Health Crisis Intervention Services and Franklin County Mental Health, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Early Intervention (MH/IDD/EI) allows shared data to provide insight about suicide in Franklin County.

On average, there are 20 suicides in Franklin County each year. This rate of 12.9 people per 100,000 is lower than state and national averages.

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Though suicide deaths have decreased by 17% compared to last year at this time, Dr. Sherri Morgan of the Mental Health Association of Franklin and Fulton Counties stresses that “Every death is preventable,” and encourages everyone to be trained in suicide prevention techniques.

Franklin County has partnered with the Mental Health Association of Franklin and Fulton Counties for 12 years to provide Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training county-wide. The QPR method for addressing suicide encourages asking this direct question, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”

READ: Local Co-responder Program: Police, mental health experts work together

The question that needs to be asked

“It’s not wrong to ask,” said Sheldon Schwartz, chair of the Franklin/Fulton MH/IDD/EI Advisory Board.

Studies show that this method of direct questioning does not encourage suicide but instead, helps the person struggling with suicidal thoughts.

“Just by asking, you let a person know that someone cares,” said Commissioner Chairman Dave Keller.

Cori Seilhamer, Mental Health Program Specialist for Franklin County MH/IDD/EI realizes that not everyone is comfortable asking that question.

“If you are afraid to ask the question, find someone who can,” she advises.

“I am a firm believer in life after a suicide attempt and I am a firm believer that people can turn their lives around,” said Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski.

Suicide prevention resources

For anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts, there is hope. You are not alone. There are free and confidential resources available:

  • Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741
  • Suicide Prevention Coalition of Franklin County
  • 717-264-2916 or 1-800-593-8351 | mhaff.org/programs
  • Keystone Health Crisis Intervention Program – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • (717) 264-2555 or 866-918-2555 | KeystoneHealth.org

Click here for more information about this month’s Suicide Awareness Month activities.

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