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Preventing suicide remains a primary focus

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Sept. 5-11 is Suicide Prevention Week. September is designated as Suicide Prevention Month, but the effort has to continue year-round if it is going to work.

The Jones County Suicide Prevention Coalition held its monthly meeting Aug. 31 to discuss ways to get out the message that help is only a click or a phone call away.

Joy Carr is the coordinator for the local coalition, and she has been busy distributing materials and information, particularly to the schools, to be handed out to classrooms and at gatherings such as football games.

The stress balls, bracelets and rally towels are particularly popular at the games.

Social media is a point of emphasis because of its reach to students and adults in the targeted age groups. Lindsay

Mangrum of Augusta University led the virtual meeting that began with the introduction of a new tool to make it even easier to get help. The new tool is called Linktree, which is a new QR code that takes the user directly to clickable links to the Georgia Crisis and Access Line information, the Jones County Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Resource Guide and the Facebook and Instagram pages for the Jones County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

There is also a link to download the My GCAL App for phones and computers.

Carr said Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training – also known as QPR (question, persuade, refer) – training is available in person and virtually. The coordinator said QPR virtual sessions are offered by Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Development every Thursday during the month of September.

She said training has been scheduled for CASA volunteers and Jones County Firefighters. Carr said she was also reaching out to CNA and Psychology classes at the high school

Dr. Martha Tingen with Augusta University talked about suicide prevention sign ads that would be placed on grocery store carts in Ingles. The sign ads will contain the new QR Linktree codes. She said she was hoping the ads would be ready for September but it may be November.

“We are reaching out to decrease the stigma associated with getting help,” she said.

Tingen talked about a new documentary “My Ascension.” The Facebook page for the documentary said it is the story of a 16-year-old varsity cheerleader whomsurvived a suicide attempt but was left paralyzed. The experience propelled her on a mission to help others find hope.

Tingen said the Suicide Prevention Coalition purchased unlimited screening rights to show the documentary, which means it can be shown at no cost.

“I have watched it. It is intense and extremely powerful,” she said. “It shows the pain and hurt of families, but overall, the movie is encouraging.”

Tingen lost her son to suicide and knows the pain families experience. She suggested showing the documentary to students in middle school and up.

“The goal is to get people to reach out to people who are not doing OK,” she said.

The next meeting of the Jones County Suicide Prevention Coalition is scheduled Sept. 28 at 10 a.m. For more information visit the Jones County Suicide Prevention Coalition Facebook page, Georgia Crisis and Access Line or call 1-800-715-4225. The phone line is available 24/7.

Carr can be reached by email at jonescountyfamilyconnection@gmail.com for more information about the local effort.