Suicide awareness presented to overflow crowd
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD – An overflow crowd turned out Sept. 13 for a community presentation on suicide awareness, held in the Froehlke Auditorium at the Laird Center for Medical Research, Marshfield.
The event, hosted by the Marshfield Area Parent Network, included a presentation by Marshfield Clinic Health System Center for Community Health Advancement Health Educator Jodi Chojnacki, as well as a filming of the documentary, “Suicide – The Ripple Effect.”
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction statistics shows that Wisconsin has one of the highest suicide rates among teens.
Chojnacki stated that suicide is “the most preventable form of death and almost any positive action may save a life.”
“It is an incredibly powerful topic and a public health issue that we need to address,” she said.
“What we are seeing is higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal intent, and even higher rates of suicide attempts. So, right at the beginning of the academic calendar year, I want everyone in this community to know about what the suicide warning signs are, what the crisis line numbers are. I want them to know what risk factors are.
“There are all kinds of signs that one should look for, and one of the biggest signs is a significant change in their behavior,” she added.
These changes might include variations in friends, clothing style, music, sleep patterns, school performance, and/or extracurricular activities.
The documentary, chronicling the life of Kevin Hines, who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge in 2000 to take his own life. He is one of just 36 people to survive that jump and today spreads awareness on mental health.
During the film, Hines added that there are still some cases where communities just aren’t doing enough. In one instance, he cites a lack of a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge, when places like the Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower are equipped with them.
“One person goes to this bridge to die every seven to 10 days,” Hines said, “and if you thought of any other two-mile stretch of land around the world – land or street or road – that had this many deaths; that road would be shut down.”
Chojnacki said that once the warning signs are there, there are methods to help prevent that individual from taking their own life.
The Center for Community Health Advancement offers training through a QPR program – similar to CPR. QPR stands for question, persuade, and refer. Upcoming training will be held in October, January, and March.
Nearly 300 people attended the presentation and informational expo at the Laird Center.
“I was so amazed at this community’s response, because 20 mental health agencies and organizations volunteered their time to share their resources so that people can learn about them,” Chojnacki said.
For more information, contact the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Advancement at 715-221-8400.