Counseling Center observes National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month
The University of Maine at Machias Counseling Center will organize several events in September in recognition of National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month.
World Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday, Sept. 10 will be observed with informative posts on the Counseling Center Facebook page at fb.com/ummcounselingcenter. Visitors are encouraged to change their social media profile photos to a lit candle to show support.
Mental health counselor Stacey Cherry will lead a Zoom presentation focused on common beliefs about suicide, risk factors and warning signs, and approaches to suicide intervention from 6–7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16. The free virtual event also will feature guest speakers who will share their experiences of being personally impacted by suicide. Access the presentation at zoom.us/j/92344815716.
The annual Out of the Darkness Walk will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 at the Machias Chamber of Commerce and will end with a candlelight vigil at Bad Little Falls Park. The walk is held in hundreds of cities nationwide each year to raise awareness of suicide prevention and reduce stigma surrounding suicide. Attendance will be limited to 25 registered participants, who will be asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing. To register, for more information, or to request a reasonable accommodation, call 207.255.1343.
In addition to these events, two displays to raise awareness of suicide will be on view throughout September. A lighted tree at the Machias Chamber of Commerce represents suicide victims, those struggling with suicidal thoughts, and those who support suicide prevention. Pinwheels placed on the UMM campus lawn represent annual suicide deaths in Maine. Both displays also will feature posters in memory of local loved ones lost to suicide; visitors are welcome to contribute their own memorial posters.
Maine’s suicide rate is 20% higher than the national average and among the highest in New England, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CDC report released last month found that U.S. adults have experienced higher levels of suicidal ideation, depression and substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The stress and isolation caused by the pandemic is one possible cause of this increase, and makes awareness and prevention of suicide more vital now than ever,” says Cherry.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call AMHC Crisis Services at 888.568.1112 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255, or text START to 741.741.