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      Program discusses outlets for suicide prevention

      Many participants were vocal about implementing more local programs in the community and schools / Sarah Bleau

      In 2010, there were four murder-suicides within three months.

      Did they know about suicide prevention outlets? Are there enough?

      These are some questions that were posed at a suicide prevention program at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital on Tuesday.

      "I think the resources are out there, I think people might not always know about them. We always need additional resources," says Garnie Mitchell, Manager at Phoebe's Behavioral Health Center.

      As a mother to three teenagers, Venitra Crenshaw vocalized at the program that she wants to see suicide prevention taught more in schools.

      "They have bullying and everything there, so I think maybe they should start in the school system, maybe in the elementary school so we can try and stop some of the suicide among our teenagers today," says Crenshaw. "Children would feel like there's someone out there to listen to them."

      According to facts presented at a Suicide Prevention and Intervention program, suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds.

      The Dougherty County School System has counselors and is also implementing a new program called Friends of Rachel's: A branch of Rachel's Challenge and helps with bullying prevention and suicide prevention. Phoebe's Network of Trust oversees the program.

      As for outside school for teens and adults, experts say there could be more local resources. Mitchell says they are trying to form a community suicide prevention group.

      "We did try to form a suicide prevention group and that's still if people are interested in that we'd still love to bring the community together," she says. "We try to have professionals and organizations and churches come together to kind of form a task force and then hopefully to have a survivors of suicide support group."

      Mitchell says the only way people will find out about this is through people talking about it, which can be an challenge.

      "I think it's like a taboo," says Crenshaw. "People are afraid to talk about suicide."

      Mitchell says spreading the word about suicide prevention outlets will take collaboration.

      "It takes all of us and our efforts to combat this, to know the warning signs, to know where to get help and to know what to do," says Mitchell.

      If you know someone who shows signs that they may be considering suicide, Mitchell says to speak up, respond quickly and offer support. She says to start a conversation with the person, saying something such as "Recently I have noticed some difference in you and wondered how you're doing."

      According to local psychologists, people considering suicide should go to the emergency room for help or ask someone to take them to the emergency room.

      Local therapists are also available through the Phoebe Portal BHC/EAP Albany Area Counseling Services. People can also contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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