'Share the Journey’ - Save a life

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 9/7/21

HONESDALE, PA — It’s the second leading cause of death in people 10 to 34 years old, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44. The good news …

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'Share the Journey’ - Save a life

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HONESDALE, PA — It’s the second leading cause of death in people 10 to 34 years old, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44. The good news is that suicide, like the other two leading causes of death in young people, vehicular accidents and drug overdoses, is largely preventable. Early detection of suicidal thoughts and tendencies, coupled with prompt and effective treatment of individuals exhibiting them, is key to prevention. And education is key to both detection and appropriate treatment.

That’s why a collaborative effort by the National Alliance for Mental Illness of Northeast PA and the National Suicide Prevention Initiative (Wayne/Pike Chapter) visited six area school districts: Delaware Valley, North Pocono, Wallenpaupack, Western Wayne, Wayne Highlands, and Forest City. Gina Florio-Ely, John Nebzydoski, Carol Kneier, and JoAnna VanTine outlined that particular suicide prevention outreach effort at the September 2 Wayne County Commissioners meeting.

Assemblies held at each of the districts visited addressed a total of 7,500 students. Every student received a resource card that included a directory of organizations instrumental in suicide prevention and contact information for each.

“Unfortunately, we can’t prevent every suicide,” VanTine told the commissioners. “But statistics show that we are making progress. In 2019, there were 18 suicides in Wayne County, in 2020, 11, and to date in 2021, only five.”

“Despite the decline in local suicide rates, there’s more work to be done,” said commissioner Brian Smith, declaring September to be Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. Reading a formal proclamation by the commissioners that states, in part, “We call upon the people of Wayne County to recognize this special observance by joining in the Northeast PA Suicide Prevention Initiative’s Share the Journey Suicide Prevention and Awareness Walk and participate in efforts to raise awareness and support survivors of suicide loss.”

Nebzydoski invited the commissioners and the general public to join the 2021 Share the Journey walk for suicide prevention on September 25 at Wallenpaupack High School. Registration starts at 10 a.m., the walk begins at 11 a.m. The walk brings together those who have contemplated suicide, those who have attempted it, those who have survived it, those who have lost someone to it, those who have known suicidal individuals, and those who just hope to save a life.

Drug overdose being another leading cause of death in young people, it was coincidental but oddly apt, that the employee recognized at the same meeting for five years of exemplary service was Drug Treatment County Court Administrator Melinda Card. Judge Janine Edwards told the commissioners that she was so impressed by Card’s work at Victims Intervention Program that she ‘stole’ her from that organization to work first in the district attorney’s office and then in her present job.

Edwards said that Card’s holistic approach to addiction treatment and rehabilitation has been the cornerstone of the court’s success in making those brought before it whole and productive people again. “The trifecta of successful rehabilitation benefits the individual and his family, the individual’s work and workplace, and the community in which he lives.”

In a last order of business, the commissioners declared a disaster emergency in Wayne County resulting from the remnants of Hurricane Ida which, on September 1, “caused areas of flooding throughout Wayne County which will cause injury, damage and suffering to the persons and property of Wayne County.” If losses meet the state’s storm damage threshold, the county would be eligible for PEMA funds.

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