Office to offer suicide prevention help

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The Jason Foundation to be introduced in ceremony Thursday

By Amber Coulter

The community is receiving a new resource to deter suicide among young people.

A ribbon cutting ceremony and luncheon for The Jason Foundation Inc. is planned from noon until 2 p.m. Thursday at Pritchard Community Center on South Mulberry Street in Elizabethtown.

The grand opening is for a foundation that offers free educational programs aimed at training teachers, coaches, youth workers and parents to recognize warning signs for young people considering suicide and helping them to seek help.

The foundation has a national clinical affiliation with the parent company of Lincoln Trail Behavioral Health System. That parent company has partnered with the foundation to identify areas that could benefit from having such a resource.

Kentucky is doing good work to prevent suicide and the foundation won’t try to replace existing resources but will become part of them, said Clark Flatt, foundation president and chief executive officer.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this year show 10.9 percent of Kentucky high school students have attempted suicide, compared to 7.8 percent nationwide.

The foundation trained more than 7,000 Kentucky teachers last year and is hoping to train more this year, he said.

The local office is the 91st set up nationwide by the foundation.

Health system representatives are excited about the resource coming to the area to increase awareness about the problem and ways to help, said Charlotte Davis, director of human resources for the health system and a Jason Foundation representative.

It’s important the youth feel more comfortable reaching out for help. They often think they can’t do that, she said.

The resource will help adults who influence young lives better understand how to help them, she said.

“The biggest thing, personally, that I hope is that we begin to talk more freely about what we call the silent epidemic,” she said.

The Lincoln Trail Behavioral Health System has been in the area since 1986, and it’s great to be able to offer more help in identifying and helping young people considering suicide, Davis said.

“It we save one child, that’s wonderful,” she said.

Flatt plans to speak at the office’s opening.

Of young people who attempt suicide, 80 out of 100 show warning signs. The challenge is recognizing the signs and knowing how to respond, he said.

“To me, that means 80 of those young people didn’t have to die,” he said.

The foundation is named for a 16-year-old who died in 1997, when there were more myths and misconceptions about suicide, Flatt said.

Building more awareness of the issue can do even more to prevent youth suicide, he said.

“Let’s bring it to a level where people can talk about it myth-free for what it is, a national health issue,” he said.

Warning signs

Signs of suicidal thoughts:

  • Depression
  • Abrupt changes in behavior
  • Mood swings
  • Crying spells
  • Recent grief or loss
  • Changes in school performance
  • Giving away treasured things
  • Suicidal threats
  • Hopelessness
  • Talking about suicide

Source: The Jason Foundation Inc.

Need help?

There’s more than one place to look for help if you or someone you know is depressed or contemplating suicide. Don’t be afraid to seek help.

  • COMMUNICARE CRISIS HOTLINE —1-800-641-4673, 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • LINCOLN TRAIL BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SYSTEM — 1-800-274-7374, 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • VETERANS CRISIS LINE/LIFELINE NETWORK — The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Health Administration has founded a national suicide prevention hotline to ensure veterans in emotional crisis have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.