PORTLAND, ME -- It’s a seven-letter word no one wants to talk about: Suicide. Too often, victims are blamed and their families and friends are left stigmatized. For those who have been impacted by it, there are feelings of shame, embarrassment and the most intense pain imaginable.
To provide information and encourage dialogue on a topic easier left silent, Maine Mental Health Partners’ It Takes a Community and the University of Southern Maine will present a free public forum titled Let’s Talk About Suicide: Help. Healing. Hope. on Thursday, October 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Hannaford Hall, University of Southern Maine. Hosted by Pat Callaghan of WCSH TV-6, a guest panel will provide insight from their own experiences followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
The forum is free and open to the public.
“Suicide is a topic that people avoid discussing,” said It Takes a Community Chair Anne Pringle. “In our increasingly complicated and stressful world, the community needs to talk about and better understand suicide – the risk factors, behavioral signs of a possible attempt, and helpful steps that can be taken to help someone in emotional distress, regardless of age.”
Unfortunately, suicide statistics indicate a marked increase in many populations, including an eight percent increase in youth aged 10 to 24 who are inundated by the pressures of school, relationships and preparing for life on their own – to the elderly overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness at an age where life should be getting easier, not harder.
With its mission to improve the experience of Maine individuals and their families who face the challenge of mental illness through awareness building, education and community outreach, It Takes A Community is uniquely positioned to open this discussion. Threemembers of the volunteer group will participate in the panel discussion and include Nancy Thompson, advocate; Dri Huber, Student Fellow with USM Cares; and, Bob Small, Psy.D., Director of Counseling Services, USM.
Additional panelists include Steve Addario, LCSW, Director of Crisis Services, Opportunity Alliance; Kirk Grant, LCSW, Veteran, Social Worker at Portland Vet Center; and Christina Solak-Goodwin, LCPC, RN, Author of Battling Bipolar Disorder.
“This is a great opportunity for our community to connect and learn how to better deal with this painful and tragic topic” said Bob Small. “The world is full of struggle. It is hopeful that this community is willing to engage in such a discussion. Hopefully, people will walk away from this event with new ideas about how to better help themselves and the people they care about."