Local officials to play it ‘SAFE’ for inaugural softball game

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published August 4, 2014

FARMINGTON HILLS — After an alarming number of middle school students attempted suicide around 2011, Sara Majoros knew it was time to be proactive, even if that brought back painful memories.

“I was super interested in it because I lost my brother to suicide in 2001,” Majoros said. “So I thought it was a really important cause. When I was growing up, we didn’t talk about that kind of stuff. We swept it under the rug.”

Now with Farmington Suicide Awareness For Everyone, a Farmington-area suicide prevention task force, and mental health resource Common Ground for the past several years, she is ready to play ball during Farmington SAFE’s inaugural softball game Aug. 9 at Founders Sports Park, 35500 W. Eight Mile Road.

“We talk about these difficult topics and provide awareness for our community. It is awesome,” she said. “Our community is a community who cares.”

The community and City Council members joined forces to discuss suicide preventative measures several years ago.

In late 2010, the City Council received a report that 13 middle school-age children had attempted suicide in the same month in apparently unrelated incidents.

Councilwoman Nancy Bates, and councilmen Randy Bruce and Ken Massey, focused on the issue together and contacted key city leaders, including Police Chief Chuck Nebus and city Youth and Family Services Program Director Todd Lipa.

The council members leaned on the Commission for Children, Youth and Families, the Mayor’s Youth Council and the Emergency Preparedness Commission for assistance.

Since then, Farmington SAFE has hosted community conversations that focus on a variety of discussions, among other outreach programs. The task force brings community leaders together to reach out to troubled individuals and counteract trends in suicide and suicide attempts.

City Councilman and Farmington SAFE member Massey  — who lost his stepson, Graham E. Smith, to suicide — said the Graham E. Smith Memorial Fund allows the group to fund events such as the softball game.

“When you bring out the issue of suicide prevention, mental health, it is a very uncomfortable subject for people and (is) met with a lot of emotional reaction,” Massey said.

He said that in order to combat that, having a relaxing atmosphere and fun outing, paired with suicide awareness resources, could still send a very important message: discussing mental health is vital.

“Break down that barrier and change that dialogue — that is our focus here,” he said. 

Attendees are welcome to cheer for their favorite teams at the first Farmington Area Community Softball Tournament and Community Picnic.

Opening ceremonies begin at 9 a.m., with games occurring throughout the day. The family-friendly event will include a bounce house, tours of police cars and fire trucks, presentations on community resources, and a visit from Argos, the K-9 police dog. Concessions will be available, including adult beverages for those ages 21 and older.

Softball teams will be made up of representatives from the Farmington Hills police and fire departments, staff members from a variety of city departments, and community participants.

Six teams are currently on the roster, and there is room for 10. 

City Manager Steve Brock said the event will be fun for participants and spectators alike.

“It is for a great cause, of course,” he said. “Anything to help the SAFE group, we want to be a part of to encourage people to come out and watch and support.”

The event, which is sponsored by Botsford Hospital, will benefit Farmington SAFE and the Graham E. Smith Memorial Fund.

Majoros and Massey both said that because they grew up in a time where even breathing the word “suicide” was taboo, they hope many people attend this event and it becomes a tradition in the community.

“There was a time you couldn’t talk about breast cancer, and the lives that have been saved by that discussion is huge,” Massey said. “I’d like to hope that we can save a life along the way and help somebody get connected with a resource. Then we are doing a positive thing for our community.”

For more information, go to http://farmingtonsafe.com/ or call (248) 871-2500.

Staff Writer Dave Wallace contributed to this report.