Sedona AZ (May 16, 2016) – Suicide is one of the greatest tragedies imaginable for a victim and their loved ones. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI), each year suicide claims approximately 30,000 lives in America which makes it responsible for slightly more than 1 percent of deaths in the United States. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are a psychiatric emergency requiring immediate intervention to prevent this disastrous event. It is the most common psychiatric emergency with close to 1 million Americans receiving treatment for suicidal thoughts, behaviors or attempts on a yearly basis. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the 3rd leading cause of death among people aged 10-24.
In 2014, 40,000+ people in the US died from suicide according to the CDC; in 2013, 1040 peopled died in Arizona from suicide, and in 2014, 78 people died in Yavapai County. Locally, we experienced 4 suicides in 3 months at Midgley Bridge in the past year. “This is a subject we need to talk about in our community because research shows that 90% of individuals who die by suicide experience mental illness,” said Barbara Litrell, leader of the Mental Health Coalition Verde Valley which is sponsoring a series of events related to mental illness during the month of May.
During the third week of May, the Mental Health Coalition Verde Valley has three events focused on suicide and depression.
On Tuesday, May 17, “The Bridge Between Life and Death – Panel on Suicide and Depression” will take place 5:30-7:30PM at the Jewish Community Center of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Dr., Sedona. The panelists sharing their stories include local family members who have lost loved ones to suicide including several who took their lives at Midgley Bridge.
The program begins with a 5PM Soup Bar, a video of a TED talk by Kevin Briggs, a first responder at the Golden Gate Bridge, followed by the panel discussion. First responders from the Sedona Fire District will be honored for their work and a plaque will be presented to Fire Chief Kris Kazian. The program will conclude with a special remembrance and healing service by Rabbi Alicia Magal. All are welcome. No charge.
On Wednesday, May 18, 3:00PM-4:30PM, NAU Professor Andrea Houchard, Ph.D, and Jacque Giancarelle, Suicide Prevention Administrator at Health Choice Integrated Care, LLC, will lead a courageous conversation, “Suicide: An Open Dialogue” at the Sedona Community Center, 2615 Melody La., Sedona. Suicide is tragic, and almost always portrayed as such. It is often not talked about. However, thinking about taking one’s own life is something most people have done. Through thoughtful and sensitive dialogue, Andrea and Jacque will lead an open dialogue about suicidal thoughts and impulses and the challenging role they play in the human experience. All are welcome. No charge.
The last event of the week will be Thursday, May 19, 4PM and 7PM when the film “Bridegroom” will be shown at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, 2030 W. Hwy 89A, Sedona. BRIDEGROOM, tells the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving, committed relationship cut tragically short by a misstep off the side of a roof. The story of what happened after this accidental death – of how people without the legal protections of marriage can find themselves completely shut out and ostracized – is poignant, enraging and opens a window on the shame, trauma and lack of support for our LGBTQ community and their families dealing with the obstacles they face during traumatic events.
This special showing of BRIDEGROOM is sponsored by PFLAG Sedona/Verde Valley which provides a support system for families and friends of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender persons in their effort to understand, accept and support their loved ones with pride.
Each film will be preceded by Larry Rosenberg performing songs from his one man show, “The Larry Show,” a blend of the uplifting energy of song, humor and inspiration drawn from Larry’s 70+ years of wisdom. And each film will be followed by a panel of community members sharing stories about their experiences. The panel includes Glenn Scarpelli, Jennifer O’Brien, and Alan Friedman and is moderated by Susan Hughes. Purchase tickets at Box Office or online at www.sedonafilmfestival.com
The Mental Health Coalition Verde Valley is dedicated to building support for families and individuals living with mental illness through education, advocacy and community support services. According to NAMI, one in four adults experiences mental illness every year and approximately half of chronic mental illness begins by age 14 and three-quarters by age 24.
The Coalition has organized a month of programs in May with the theme of “Hope, Help and Healing” to address mental health issues related to youth and families, veterans and families, PTSD, suicide, depression, and connection between creativity, the arts and mental health. A full list of programs is available at www.mentalhealthcoalitionvv.org or call Barbara Litrell 649-0135.