Letter: Become informed on suicide prevention
To the editor:
Suicide is reaching epidemic levels in Berkshire County and across the country. While community organizations and health providers are working hard to make the Berkshires healthier and to decrease the risks of self-harm, unfortunately suicide is still on the rise. We all need to learn more, and do more.
September has been designated by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) as Suicide Prevention Month. As a particular focus of prevention efforts, Sept. 8 through 14 will be National Suicide Prevention Week, centered on reducing stigma, supporting those who have lost someone to suicide, and educating ourselves and our communities about suicide risks. Both AFSP and the local Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention (BCSP) encourage Berkshire residents to learn how to provide a safety net for the people we know who may be struggling. These include having a real conversation with them, recognizing the risks and warning signs for suicide, and thinking about how we can connect them to professional help.
BCSP is also sponsoring a program titled "Talk Saves Lives" at the First Congregational Church in Lee on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. The evening is free of charge and includes a pizza dinner. Everyone interested in learning more about suicide risk factors and warning signs is welcome to attend.
In addition, each week during the month we are asked to reach out to our elected officials, urging them to prioritize suicide prevention and mental health. AFSP also provides suggestions for actions targeted at preventing suicide among specific populations: Sept. 9, Veterans and service members; Sept. 16, Youth mental health; Sept. 23, Suicide prevention crisis lines.
BCSP and AFSP have websites with a wealth of practical information (BCSP, berkshirecoalition.org; AFSP, afsp.org). We need and welcome your participation.
Judith A. Nardacci,
The writer is secretary and board member, Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention.
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