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 Tuesday, Sept. 10 will be observed with an information table in Torrey Hall from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. In addition, all are encouraged to light candles in their windows at 8 p.m., and change their social media profile photo to an image of a lit candle, in a display of support.
A Suicide Prevention and Awareness Presentation will be held from 6–7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18 in Torrey Hall, Room 230. Stacey Cherry, a mental health counselor at the UMM Counseling Center, will present and lead a discussion focused on common beliefs about suicide, risk factors and warning signs, and approaches to suicide intervention. Guest speakers who have been directly impacted by suicide will share their experiences and discuss ways to support those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
The annual Out of the Darkness Walk will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25 at the Machias Chamber of Commerce (across from Helen’s Restaurant) and will end with a candlelight vigil at Bad Little Falls Park, where participants who have been impacted by suicide will have the opportunity to share their stories. The walk is held in hundreds of cities nationwide each year to raise awareness of suicide prevention and reduce stigma surrounding suicide.
In addition to these events, there will be a Suicide Memorial/Awareness Tree displayed in front of UMM’s Powers Hall throughout September.
According to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 227 deaths by suicide occur in the state each year. Maine’s suicide rate is the highest of all northeastern states and is 20 percent higher than the national rate.
“These statistics are staggering and show that we need more awareness and prevention of suicide,” says Cherry. “Preventing suicide will require help from the whole community — not just clinicians, law enforcement and other professionals.
If concerned about yourself or someone else having thoughts of suicide, please call AMHC Crisis Services at 888.568.1112 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255.