WESTCHESTER, NY — County Executive Robert P. Astorino and the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health announced today that the county will sponsor several programs next week in observance of September as National Suicide Awareness Month.
“It is important it is to speak up if you or someone you know is severely depressed,” said Astorino. “Westchester County has a multitude of valuable mental health resources available for both short and long-term care. Help is a phone call away for residents so do not hesitate to reach out.”
The county will sponsor three suicide prevention programs next week in partnership with local community organizations. The programs are open to residents and service providers, and are as follows:
- Monday, September 15 – White Plains Wellness Week events. For more information on both events, call (914) 422-1378.
Featured speaker Gayathri Ramprasad, author of Shadows in the Sun, will share her triumph in overcoming mental illness from 10 a.m. to noon at White Plains Public Library.
Gayathri Ramprasad and Youth Mental Health First Aid trainers from Westchester Jewish Community Services will give a presentation to parents and students from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at White Plains High School.
- Wednesday, September 17 – safeTALK and Suicide Prevention Training with Dr. Barbara Bernstein and Maria Idoni from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the White Plains Public Library. For more information, contact Pat Garrity at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Westchester County has been a leader in addressing issues related to mental health as a public health issue. In 2013, Astorino created the “Safer Communities” initiative – a groundbreaking collaboration of school districts, police departments and community mental health experts –in response to the Newtown, Conn tragedy. A major focus of Safer Communities includes addressing overall emotional wellness for youth and adults as well as providing education and training on mental health illness and suicide prevention.
Several training programs have either developed or expanded under the initiative including: Youth Mental Health First Aid, safeTALK and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). For more information on Safer Communities contact the Department of Community Mental Health at (914) 995-5225.
One in 10 Americans suffer from depression and each year, more than 30,000 take their own lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in Atlanta. Nearly 250,000 Americans are treated at hospitals after suicide attempts. Suicide is a public health problem that can be prevented with appropriate treatment for the underlying mental health issues.
“We can all help prevent these tragic and needless deaths in our own communities by learning to recognize and take seriously the signs of depression,” said Sherlita Amler, MD, acting commissioner for the Department of Community Mental Health. “Subtle signs include withdrawal from family, friends and activities that were previously enjoyed or an increased use of alcohol or drugs. While some suicidal people say they wish they were dead or that they want to hurt themselves, not all do. However, talk like this should never be brushed aside.”
Suicide prevention resources in Westchester include:
- ·National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK
- St. Vincent’s Hospital Crisis Prevention and Response team at (914) 925-5959
- Westchester/Putnam Suicide Coalition at www.westputspc.org
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Westchester Chapter at www.afsp.org/westchester, call (914) 610-9156 or e-mail email@example.com.