Death of Baltimore county officer is a reminder to increase dialogue about suicide

It is with a heavy heart that I heard the news about Officer Joseph Comegna coming from my alma mater (“Eastern Tech students and faculty grieve loss of Baltimore County officer who killed himself at school,” Nov. 13). We have lost yet another individual to this national epidemic of suicide.

I understand all too well what the Comegna family, students, educators, staff and parents of Eastern Technical High School are feeling right now. My son Joshua York, a 2016 graduate of the school, took his own life this July at the age of 20.

Ironically, I have been working with Eastern Tech since the beginning of the school year to implement a scholarship in my son's name through The Joshua York Legacy Foundation, a non-profit organization our family started, in Joshua’s memory, that is dedicated to suicide awareness and prevention through outreach, education, and improved access to mental health care.

Often times, people don’t see or pick up on the signs of depression and suicide, especially in the male population. We want to ensure that every person who needs help gets it by opening up a dialogue on suicide to let people know it’s okay to talk about it. Our foundation works with the LGBTQ community, college students, veterans and more to provide a safe and comfortable place for individuals to speak out and ask for help. In addition to the Joshua York Scholarship, our foundation’s objectives include emergency funds and response teams for families dealing with a loved one’s suicide, more accessible mental health care and suicide prevention and awareness training.

If you’re feeling hopeless, trapped, depressed or are having thoughts about killing yourself, please tell someone. If you see a loved one acting differently — abusing alcohol or drugs, withdrawing from activities, isolating themselves, talk to them. In the United States, one person dies every 12 minutes from suicide. I urge you to put down your phone, pay attention and connect with someone on a personal level — as simple as it sounds, it could help save someone’s life.

William York, Baltimore

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