Talking about suicide can save lives

June 18, 2011. A day I will never forget. It seems like just yesterday, every detail still fresh in my memory — including the phone call that changed my life forever.

It was nearly midnight. My cellphone rang, but I was sound asleep. Next the house phone. Once again, too slow. Then my cellphone again — something had to be wrong. I ran to the phone to answer.

It was my dad.

 “Are you sitting down?” he asked. I sat down. “We lost your sister tonight.”

“That’s OK dad, we will find her.” I said, trying to remain optimistic.

“No, Marisa. She took her life.”

I was in shock. “What if” questions popped into my mind. Mixed feelings of sadness and anger seemed to be swirling around inside me. I was one of many who were left trying to pick up the pieces after Jana’s sudden death.

Every 13 minutes, someone in the United States completes suicide. It is said that for every suicide, at least six individuals are left trying to make sense of it. I have learned that I will never understand. All I can do is hope and pray that others won’t experience a similar tragedy.

Americans are far more likely to complete suicide than to commit murder. Nearly 40,000 American lives are lost each year to suicide, making it the nation’s 10th-leading cause of death and the second-leading cause for those ages 15-34.

Television shows and social media often portray a life of perfection. It’s easy to post about how great life is when in actuality, most of us have insecurities and face some sort of adversity. These characterizations make it hard to understand that feelings of sadness, loneliness and depression are all common.

In fact, this portrayal of perfection and absolute happiness is part of the reason nearly 1 in 6 high school students seriously considers suicide and 1 in 12 attempt suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Talking about suicide and suicide prevention doesn’t cause additional deaths — in fact, it can help save lives. With the rate of suicide increasing, it is crucial that we come together as a community to raise awareness about suicide prevention, provide hope to those who are in need, and to remember those we’ve lost too soon.

The Centre County Board of Commissioners has proclaimed Sept. 10 Centre County Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day and the month of September as Suicide Prevention Month.

The Jana Marie Foundation is partnering with American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Active Minds of Penn State and Skills of Central Pennsylvania for “An Evening of Hope, Healing and Remembrance” from 6:30-8 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Lemont Granary. The evening will feature a program focusing on healing through art, music and words. The night will conclude with a worldwide candle lighting ceremony of remembrance.

We hope you will join us for this special commemoration. Visit www.janamariefoundation.org for additional events throughout the month.

{Article published August 25, 2015 in the Centre Daily Times}
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