(10/1/17 – Oswego County Today) As the crowd fell silent Saturday (Sept. 30), the only thing that could be heard was the ringing of a bell after each name of a community member lost to suicide was read.
A chill in the air didn’t prevent 778 community members from gathering at SUNY Oswego’s Hewitt Union for CNY’s seventh annual Stride to SAVE Lives event.
The event kicked off at 11 a.m. with a performance by SUNY Oswego’s musical group Vocal Effect and opening remarks by both Suicide Awareness Voices of Education event chair Jamie Leszczynski and keynote speaker Dr. Dan Reidenberg.
Leszczynski spoke of the community coming together to reflect upon those that have been lost to suicide, those who have survived and those who are still battling every day.
Tears fell from her eyes recalling how the event came to be.
Leszczynski lost her brother to suicide and after the loss realized that more needed to be done in the community to bring not only awareness, but also hope.
SAVE’s new campaign – “Hope. It saves lives,” reflects the common goal of prevention and spreading positivity, said Leszczynski.
Reidenberg, who is also the executive director of SAVE, discussed with the crowd the many advances that have been made with both technology and social media to spread suicide awareness and provide resources with people.
He said Siri on Apple iPhones now gives a list of different organizations to contact if someone asks about committing suicide.
He has worked with Facebook to enable people to report when they feel that someone may be suicidal.
Reidenberg also said that seeing families come to the event with their children helps fight the stigmas surrounding mental health.
“It’s really exciting to see the turnout,” Reidenberg said. “What it means is that there are many, many people that are touched by suicide in their lives. Once they’ve been touched by this they’re impacted forever and so to see all of these people come out and support each other, get help, find resources, be together increases connections. We know connections are one of the things that prevent suicides.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 38,000 Americans who die from suicide every year and there is one suicide for every 25 attempts.
Radio host Amy Robbins from 93Q’s Ted and Amy In the Morning was also in attendance.
She said talking about suicide and how it can be prevented only helps people who may be struggling or contemplating suicide.
“Well I think the awareness of suicide prevention has come more to the forefront,” Robbins said.” “You know, you look at especially the song that we are playing these days, the Logic song that has the 1-800 National Suicide Hotline as the title of the song to really kind of show there’s help 24-hour of the day. We have a lot of young listeners, so the TV show 13 Reasons Why has been something that we’ve really focused on to talk about and it breaks my heart that there are so many family members that deal with a loss, but not only that but deal with the grief I think and the fact that maybe they should have known that this was going to happen. If we can prevent one suicide here today that means so much to me.”
Oswego City Mayor William Barlow also read a proclamation during the event declaring Sept. 30 to be Suicide Prevention Awareness Day in the Port City.
He said that having a day like this means that more and more people will realize that they are not alone.
Barlow also said that the city will continue to help SAVE in any way that it can.
“Any way we can help organizations like SAVE thrive that we do our part as local government and that means working with them in any way they ask,” Barlow said. “When they ask for resources, if we can make resources available we think it’s our obligation to do and if we can just continue to work with SAVE and organizations similar to SAVE and raise awareness and promote those organizations and the work they do then I think local government is doing their part.”
SAVE raised more than $23,000 during the event, which will help them continue programming that educates people on suicide awareness.
SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education), works to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and serves as a resource to those touched by suicide. To learn more about SAVE, visit www.save.org or call 952-946-7998.
There are certain warning signs that family and friends should be aware of.
Please check out this site for more information: http://www.save.org/index.cfm?page_id=705F4071-99A7-F3F5-E2A64A5A8BEAADD8
For anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide or harming themselves, they can call 1-888-511-SAVE (7283) or reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24 hours a day / seven days a week; www.save.org is another amazing great resource for help.