Events mark Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month in Centre County

For the fourth consecutive year, Jana Marie Foundation has worked with the Centre County Board of Commissioners to proclaim September as Centre County Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month and Sept. 10 as Centre County Suicide Prevention Day. The designation is part of a month long, countywide effort to promote mental wellness and prevent suicide.

The newly designed Centre County Suicide Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by Marisa Vicere, of Jana Marie Foundation, and Shanon Quick, of Centre County Can Help, is urging local municipalities to join in the effort. Many, including the boroughs of Philipsburg, State College and Snow Shoe, the townships of Benner, Boggs, College, Ferguson, Gregg, Haines, Halfmoon, Marion, Potter, Rush, Snow Shoe, Taylor and Union and the Centre Region Council of Governments already have done so.

The task force, which includes local agencies, community organizations, government officials and individuals, will launch its “Step Up for Mental Wellness” campaign at noon Tuesday outside the Bellefonte Courthouse. County Commissioner Mike Pipe, radio personality Jason Crane and others will share words of support and hope. Eric Ian Farmer will provide live music and yellow “Step Up for Mental Wellness” ribbons will be provided to all attendees. Yellow ribbons also will be placed on trees throughout the community as a show of unity and to help raise awareness about mental wellness.

According to the most recent 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, 144 Pennsylvanians die by suicide each month. That’s one preventable death every five hours. Artist William Snyder III has teamed up with Jana Marie Foundation to help spread the word. Snyder’s art installation project, called “save144,” kicked off suicide prevention month on Thursday outside of the Fraser Street Garage.

On Saturday, the Jana Marie Foundation and its supporting sponsors, Active Minds of Penn State and the Central Pa. Chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, will host their annual event, “An Evening of Hope, Healing and Remembrance.” This year, the program will feature a powerful intergenerational narrative performance focused on stories of strength, hope, recovery, peace and voice. The event is free and open to the public and will take place at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, 548 Puddintown Road, Houserville from 6:30-8 p.m. A community brown bag picnic will proceed the event, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

As part of Suicide Prevention Month, Jana Marie Foundation will host a Youth Mental Health First Aid Course on Sept. 14 at Ferguson Township Municipal Building. Youth Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour public education program that introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. The course is open to the public and advanced registration is required. For more details, email info@janamarie

3rd Way Collective and Learning to Live: What’s Your Story? will support Suicide Prevention Month by hosting “Laughter is Sacred Space,” a performance by Ted & Co. Theaterworks at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at Faith United Church of Christ in State College. In this gritty and dramatic talk, Ted Swartz walks you through his relationship with friend and business partner, Lee Eshleman, who took his own life in 2007. Swartz explores the paradox of working with a comedic partner struggling with bipolar disorder, as well as the challenge of writing and performing stories about God while experiencing the absence of God after Lee’s death.

Please join us in “stepping up for mental wellness” and support the efforts of local organizations by attending the events this fall. For a complete list of activities, visit www.mount events.

If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out to the Centre County Can Help Crisis Line, 800-643-5432, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255).

Marisa Vicere is the president/founder of Jana Marie Foundation. Contact her at

{Published September 1, 2016 in the Centre Daily Times}