The Suicide Prevention Coalition of Logan and Champaign Counties will hold multiple events throughout September as part of Suicide Prevention and Awareness month.
The events start Friday during the Champaign County Suicide Awareness Ceremony which will be held at noon at the Urbana University Student Center, 579 College Way.
Coalition chairperson Karey Thompson said the ceremony will honor local lives lost to suicide in the past year and raise awareness of the importance of local suicide prevention efforts. Thompson added the ceremony will provide an opportunity for support and healing for survivors of suicide such as the families, friends and loved ones of those who have died by suicide.
Thompson said Champaign County had one confirmed suicide death in 2014.
The coalition will also host a Logan County Suicide Awareness Ceremony at noon on Sept. 18 at the Holland Theater, 127 E. Columbus Ave., Bellefontaine.
On Sept. 11, a suicide prevention conference will be held between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Champaign County Community Center, 1512 S. U.S. Highway 68. As part of the conference guest speakers will speak about how to effectively manage suicide risk in out patient settings and the conference is expected to help increase the capacity and impact of local suicide prevention.
The coalition will hold the “Save a Life Color 5K” on Sept. 12 at Ohio Caverns, 2210 E. state Route 245, West Liberty. Registration for the event starts at 8 a.m. with a one-mile fun run scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and a 5K and one-mile walk scheduled for 9 a.m.
The entry fee for the 5K is $30 while the fee for the one-mile fun run or one-mile walk is $10.
Participants in the event are encouraged to bring a memory board to honor loved ones lost to suicide. After the race there will also be time for sharing and connecting and other activities such as corn hole, face painting and a memorial balloon release.
Questions regarding the event can be directed to Stephanie Ketchell at 937-599-1975.
Thompson said it is very important to have a variety of programming and events throughout the month because it is an opportunity for the coalition to share information regarding their prevention, education, postvention and awareness services. She added the events also provide an opportunity to start a conversation and to help reduce the stigma of suicide and mental illness.
Thompson said the coalition is currently promoting two awareness messages in an effort to reduce the stigma of mental illness and suicide in Champaign and Logan Counties.
The first message is that if someone is “feeling lost, it is okay to ask for directions and that mental health services are available and accessible in both counties.”
Thompson said the coalition encourages people to contact the Mental Health and Addiction Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties at 937-465-1045. The board has has information on all of the mental health providers in both counties and can link residents to services.
The second message the coalition is “thoughts of or attempting suicide is a medical emergency” and should be treated as such by calling the crisis hotline at 1-800-224-0422, calling 911, or going to the nearest emergency department.
“The coalition wants people to know that help is available and that with help comes hope,” Thompson said.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.