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Farmington Hills

September 18, 2013

SAFE to host community event on dealing with suicide attempts

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

FARMINGTON HILLS — City Councilman Ken Massey doesn’t shy away from using personal experiences to educate others about suicide and suicide prevention, including a community conversation Sept. 18.

Massey — who lost his stepson, Graham E. Smith, to suicide — is a member of Farmington Suicide Awareness For Everyone, a Farmington-area suicide prevention task force.

“My stepson took his own life, and I try to be … upfront about that,” Massey told C & G recently.

Coping with the aftermath of a suicide attempt will be the topic 7-9 p.m. at City Hall, 31555 W. 11 Mile Road. It is one of many events Farmington SAFE has every few months on topics relating to suicide and suicide prevention.

“This one is about when someone close to you makes a (suicide) attempt, how do you handle that issue?” Massey said. “The manor in which one handles it often helps speed the process of healing … or it can do harm, if you treat it incorrectly. You can push them toward another attempt.”

The community conversation will focus on how suicide-attempt survivors and their families can heal and progress toward a better future; the event is open to all community members.

A panel of experts will address the medical, legal and psychotherapeutic processes subsequent to a suicide attempt, what changes to expect from a loved one who has attempted suicide, how parents can continue to care for themselves while helping their suicidal child, and how to access resources such as therapists, support groups and hotlines following a suicide attempt, according to a city press release.

Featured speakers and participants at the event include Sue Serlin-Resnick, author, speaker and certified hypnotherapist; Amy Stern, social worker and mental health first-aid facilitator; and Gigi Colombini, psychotherapist and Farmington Area Suicide Prevention Task Force coordinator.

Farmington SAFE member Anna M. Cassar said that if someone feels that suicide is the only way out, Farmington SAFE wants to show him or her there is another option.

“We are here to say that there is help for them to feel better,” she said. “I recall a statement that a young woman said to me about her suicide attempt. She said, ‘I didn’t want my life to end; I only wanted the situation I was in to end.’”

She said that statement stuck with her because many people think they can’t find a way out.

“Many times, the burden can feel so heavy, but once it is addressed and plans are made to help the person cope with their depression and feelings of despair, hope is restored and the feelings are improved,” she said. 

The Farmington Area Suicide Prevention Task Force brings community leaders together to reach out to troubled individuals and counteract trends in suicide and suicide attempts.

The meeting is sponsored by the Farmington SAFE and the Graham E. Smith Memorial Fund. 

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

For more information, go to the Oakland County Health Division online at oakgov.com/health and click on “Youth Suicide Prevention.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sherri Kolade at skolade@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.