All Saints Episcopal Church in Portsmouth took an active approach towards dealing with the local issue of suicide.
Director at All Saints Steve Cuff explained that he participated in a day long suicide prevention gatekeeper training class at Shawnee State University and found it to be very informative
“I feel much better equipped to help people in the community, in my perish or wherever we go,” Cuff stated. “Here at the church office, the secretary and I routinely meet with people from the community who are in trouble. Occasionally, those people are considering hurting themselves.”
By participating in the training himself, he felt he was better able to respond to such individuals. Furthermore, he is a survivor of suicide, losing a best friend 25 years ago. A passion to fight the problem inspired Cuff to share the information by holding a training at All Saints that was open to community members at no cost.
“Given the response to the invitation to do this, it is obviously important to the community,” Cuff added.
By helping others gain to tools to respond to at risk individuals, Cuff said the community is given a tool that helps it become stronger and healthier.
All Saints hosted the course; however, the training was offered by the Director Counseling and Health at Shawnee State University Dr. Linda Koenig.
“The training prepares folks who are members of the community who really have no special skills in mental health – things like athletic directors, coaches, youth leaders, scout leaders, somebody who works at the church, the neighbor next door – anybody who does not have a background in mental health, it prepares them to be what we call a gatekeeper,” Koenig explained. “In other words they are prepared to recognize the signs of emotional distress and possibly suicidal thought or suicidal intent. And then, it prepares them to know what to do in those situations – how to get a person who might be considering suicide hooked up with the professional services they need and what the resources are in the community.”
Koenig offered the training as part of a program through the Suicide Prevention Coalition Speakers Bureau, a new organization dedicated to education the community about suicide and also working with individuals through an emergency response team that can be called if there is a suicide or any tragic emergency.
“Those two things are really the goal for this year and probably the next couple of years,” Koenig added.
Koenig added that the signs of suicidal behavior differs among age groups; however, there are universals.
“The number one thing associated with suicide is depression,” she stated. “Recognizing that close association between depression and suicide is critical.”
Caucasians, men, teens and elderly are at greatest risk of committing suicide.
Furthermore, those who have experienced a loss or have other emotional illness are at increased risk.
Koenig stressed that those who talk about committing suicide are asking for help. Once should not believe that it is just a cry for attention or attempt to use reverse psychology by telling them they will not do it.
Resources are available for those considering suicide as well as those who know someone at risk.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.