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Suicide Awareness and Prevention Day Established

by and on September 01, 2014 2:00 AM

The Centre County Board of Commissioners designated Wednesday, Sept. 10, as Centre County Suicide Awareness and Prevention Day at its meeting on Tuesday.

Commissioners also declared the week, from Monday, Sept. 8, to Monday, Sept. 15, Centre County Suicide Prevention Week.

"It's a very important issue," Commissioner Steve Dershem says. "It can be a very painful journey to educate folks, but I think it's very important and critical that folks not only know what resources are available but maybe share experiences and prevent some tragedies in the future."

Also on hand to discuss the importance suicide awareness and prevention was Marisa Vicere Brown and Al Vicere of the Jana Marie Foundation.

On the Awareness and Prevention Day, the Jana Marie Foundation, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Central PA Chapter and Active Minds at Penn State will sponsor a commemoration from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center in State College.

"Last year's Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day was a moving and powerful evening," Brown said. "The community came together, learned ways to heal through art, music and dramatic readings, and took time to remember those who have left us too soon and those who are currently struggling."

Several artists, musicians and specialists will be on hand at the event to share messages of hope and remembrance, and provide healing support. They include musician Zach Maser, artist Mel Forkner-Lescher, playwright Pam Monk, grief therapist Evelyn Walk and crisis intervention specialist Shanon Quick. Skills of Central PA will also organize an art exhibit.

"This proclamation would really help us, I think, to position it firmly as a regular event," Vicere said.

The Jana Marie Foundation was established by Brown after her sister, Jana Marie Vicere, committed suicide in 2011. In Centre County, there are approximately 15 suicides annually, Brown said.

"We are so grateful that the Centre County Board of Commissioners continue to recognize the need for Centre County Suicide Prevention and Awareness Day," Brown says. "Any sudden death is difficult and leaves you with hundreds of 'what if' questions."

Brown also notes that it is important to remember suicide is not the cause of someone's death, but the means by which a person passed away.

"(This is why) it is important to educate, bring awareness, and to stomp out the stigma, so those in need feel comfortable reaching out and getting help," Brown says.

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This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Brittany is the staff writer for The Centre County Gazette.
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