Awareness forum held for suicide prevention in Columbus

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COLUMBUS, Ind. (Sept. 10, 2015)-- Thursday is World Suicide Prevention Day. One central Indiana community is taking a stand to increase awareness of death by suicide and mental illness.

Organizers said after six suicides in six weeks, including adults and children, something had to be done.

“There was something that was happening inside, and we would find out later it was this illness taking him over,” said Annette Kleinhenz.

Four and a half years ago life for Annette Kleinhenz changed. Her son, 29-year-old Caleb, died by suicide after a struggle with mental illness. She made sure his death wouldn't be in vain and now is a nurse. Psychiatric nursing is her speciality.

“Stigma is the biggest barrier to treatment which then would be a barrier to suicide prevention,” she said.

Suicide prevention is the goal of an event Thursday night where Kleinhenz will speak at Columbus East High School. Two sophomores died by suicide at the start of the school year, leaving both parents and students shaken.

“There was an outcry from the community asking what can we do and what's being done,” said Kisha Allman, who helped organize the event.

Statistics from the Bartholomew County 911 center show a trend. In 2010, dispatchers received 171 calls including suicide threats, attempts, or deaths. By 2012, the number jumped to 277. In 2014, it hit 387.

“What we are trying to do is decrease the stigma of suicide and mental illness by talking out loud about it. The more we talk about it, the more people who are feeling this way feel safe to go talk to someone about what they're feeling,” said Jennifer Wright-Berryman, an event organizer.

Organizers said tonight they hope to reinforce the message that resources are available and want to prevent the pain that so many families already feel.

“The more we educate, the more opportunities to educate,  the more we can break down those barriers,” said Kleinhenz.


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