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Local fight for suicide prevention continues by candlelight

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The local community is continuing its movement to break the silence about suicide, tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Ohio University’s Campus Gate. The Candlelight Vigil for Suicide Prevention is in coordination with the Athens Suicide Prevention Coalition and Bobcats for Suicide Prevention Campaign.

The event is being held on World Suicide Prevention Day, which is in the middle of National Suicide Prevention Week, September 8-12, 2014. Suicide survivors and licensed professionals will share stories and advice related to suicide prevention. Afterwards, candles will be lit and the group will walk about College Green in pursuit of their mission.

The two groups holding the event are a part of a larger effort over the last year to boost awareness about suicide prevention.

In Fall 2013, Bobcats for Suicide Prevention Campaign was developed to host fundraising events and awareness activities. Post It, an OHIO student group which combines art and suicide prevention messages to help students in distress, was also developed.

In Summer 2014, OHIO’s Dean of Student’s office and Counseling and Psychological Services coordinated to create a gatekeeper organization, Bobcats Who Care. The program provides three hours of training for students, faculty and staff to help them gain knowledge, awareness and understanding of suicide.

In Logan, OH, Janey Saving leads the Hocking County Suicide Bereavement Support Group. They meet once a month at the Bowen House, a local arts and education center. Through her personal experiences, she is able to help local people through the grieving process of losing a loved one to suicide.

She has lost two cousins to suicide. One took her life after coming home from a dinner with husband and friends.

"He sat down to in the living room to watch sports on T.V. and she went into the bedroom and propped up the pillows,” she said. “You could tell where she had gotten a stool out to prop herself up in the closet to get out a gun. And she shot herself."

The other cousin was in a recliner while looking at a book of old photographs when she shot herself. A few days had passed before the family found her there.

"There's just no words for it," Saving said. “You just find yourself shaking your head because there were no answers."

Saving said creating awareness through these local initiatives is the key strategy in the fight for suicide prevention.

"Suicide, I believe, is still taboo,” she said. “People don't want to talk about it, even in this day and age where everybody talks about everything. I think we still brush it under the rug and just try to ignore it.”

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Among those 15 to 24-years-old, it is the second leading cause. Approximately 100,000 Americans attempt suicide each year.

OHIO’s Counseling and Psychological Services is not yet sure how the local initiatives are impacting suicide rates.

"Because these initiatives are so new, I don't know if we necessarily have data to say that they are decreasing suicide,” said Krystal Hernandez, a staff psychologist as the office. “I think it’s more so increasing awareness of resources and decreasing the stigma around seeking help."

Those that need help can call the Athens County Suicide Hotline at 1-888-475-8484.