Letter: Talking helps the walk out of darkness

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To the editor:

In my line of work, talking helps. It's been proven conclusively that people struggling with behavioral health issues find comfort, support, relief and a better way forward when they talk with someone they love or trust. Talking isn't the only remedy, but it's always part of an effective treatment plan toward better mental health.

On Saturday, Sept. 29, our community will come together once again to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention during the "Out of the Darkness Community Walk" at Monument Mountain Regional High School. Our hope every year is that this event gives more people the courage to begin a conversation that might one day save their life or the life of someone they love.

We understand how hard it can be. The stigma surrounding mental health issues prevents many of us from telling others about our own despair, or the anguish we see in a loved one. Yet, we also know that the more we talk about very difficult issues, the easier it eventually gets. We discover that we aren't alone, and that there are people nearby with the compassion and training to guide individuals and entire families through very challenging times.

Research and practice show us that suicide can be prevented. We know that individuals at risk for suicide can overcome this risk and live healthy, productive and fulfilling lives. And we know that applying evidence-based practices and delivering comprehensive and integrated prevention programs will reduce the rates of suicide. As I often say, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover. All of this begins with talking.

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Saturday's community walk is an opportunity to start the conversation and keep it going. Learn as much as you can about the warning signs of suicide, how you can help, and the community resources available that have already assisted many of our friends and neighbors. Suicide is not inevitable, no matter what the circumstances. With all we know about suicide prevention, words such as hope, health, and resilience can now be part of our conversations.

For more information or to support the walk, please visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website at AFSP.org.

M. Christine Macbeth,

Pittsfield

The writer is president and chief executive officer of The Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.


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