Advertisement

Tuesday is World Suicide Prevention Day and Carroll is making new efforts

The fourth annual Carroll County Out of the Darkness Walk on Saturday brought more than 850 people Woodbine’s Krimgold Park to raise funds and awareness of suicide.

It was a flood of a turnout compared to the 2018 walk, when 156 walkers turned up, according to walk co-chair Lori Barnard-Lowe, though something of a mixed blessing.

Advertisement

“I am kind of torn. I am so happy our walk did so well, but I am kind of sad that it did so well because we’ve had so many losses,” she said. “We have lost a lot of kids in the county this year.”

But that awareness, however dearly purchased, is important for the future, according to Barnard-Lowe. Tuesday is World Suicide Prevention Awareness Day, and the walk proved an excellent springboard into that day of messaging, as well as raising more than $95,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“Everybody seemed to have a really good day. It was very healing, it was very uplifting,” Barnard-Lowe said. “People are talking, people want to help, people are asking what they can look for, people are asking how they can help someone.”

Suicide rates have been increasing worldwide since 1990, and in Carroll County, the number of deaths has fluctuated between 19 and 30 a year since 2012, with at least 164 suicides in total during that time, according to still-preliminary data from the Carroll County Health Department. After a peak of 30 deaths in 2014, the number dipped to 19 in 2015, but has been climbing every year since, with 26 suicides in 2018.

In 2019, the Health Department made suicide prevention a part of the agency’s strategic plan, and in April launched the Suicide Prevention Coalition, according to Co-Chair Adrienne Sanders.

“It’s not just our thing; it’s very much a collaborative effort,” she said. “It’s made up of professional staff like providers in the community, health department staff, police — we have law enforcement as well as corrections on the coalition — but also members of the community who have lost someone or who are survivors of attempts.”

One of the first things to come out of that coalition was recognition that Carroll County needed more support groups for people who had lost someone to suicide, according to Sanders. Groups like “The Triple S Group,” a support group for people who have lost someone to suicide or overdose, which meets on the first and third Saturday of each month at Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church, in Sykesville.

Beginning in October, Barnard-Lowe will be facilitating a similar group, but one focused on youth who have lost a loved one to suicide.

“Our group is for eighth grade through 12th grade, it’s called Teen Talks and it will be held at the [Carroll County Youth Service Bureau],” she said. “Kids don’t want to talk to adults, they want to talk to friends. The best way to do that is to find a friend who has lost someone.”

The coalition is also working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and other organizations to bring trainings to the community, such as the foundation’s SafeTALK program, which Sanders said she hopes will become a monthly program at the Health Department.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also offers a similar program, Talk Saves, that can be brought by request to schools, companies and nonprofits, according to Barnard-Lowe.

“It’s a 45-minute presentation and it’s basically showing people what to look for, the signs of suicide and how to help someone who is showing them,” she said. “It’s just a basic introduction to suicide prevention.”

And from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 1, the Youth Service Bureau will host More Than Sad, a program on mental health and suicide for parents looking to better understand how to help their child who may be struggling with mental illness.

The Health Department and Carroll Community College are also offering free mental health first-aid courses for anyone who like to to learn more about how to help someone in crisis, and for those in immediate need, there are the Carroll County Mobile Crisis team at 410-952-9552, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and the Maryland Crisis Hotline, at 1-800-422-0009.

Advertisement

And while training can be helpful, sometimes it can be as simple as asking someone how they are doing, according to Barnard-Lowe, and that’s something she sees the younger generations embracing — volleyball teams from Liberty and Winters Mill High school, and other sports teams, were a big part of the huge turnout at the walk on Saturday.

“My step son is 13; he is not afraid to go up to his friend and say, 'Hey, are you OK? Is something wrong?’ I would have never done that, it was just taboo,” she said. “The stigma is definitely going away somewhat with the next generation. I feel like we are becoming a more open community talking about mental health, which is what needs to be done.”

More information

If you are in mental health crisis, call:

  • The Carroll County Mobile Crisis team at 410-952-9552.
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-8255.
  • Maryland Crisis Hotline, 1-800-422-0009.

For more information on the new Teen Talk support group for youth affected by suicide, contact Lori Barnard-Lowe at 240-674-4538 or teentalk.westminster@gmail.com.

For more information on the Oct. 1 More than Sad suicide prevention program at the Carroll County Youth Service Bureau, contact Rachel Greenberg at 443-244-8641 or rgreenberg@ccysb.org by Sept. 27.

For more information on safeTalk, Talk Safe or other programs of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, visit www.afsp.org.

For more information on mental health first aid courses, visit www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/cs. To register for a course, call 410-386-8100 or visit www.carrollcc.edu/instantenrollment.

For more information on mental health services for yourself or a loved one, call the Carroll County Health Department at 410-876-4800.

Advertisement
Advertisement