CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Community members and care givers from all walks of life -- especially service members, veterans and their families -- are invited to a suicide prevention summit from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3 at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center.
The event, #BeThere Clarksville, A Life-Saving Summit for Service Members, Veterans, Families and Our Community is sponsored by the Clarksville Suicide Prevention Alliance, a group that has grown from a pilot program convened by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The goal of The Alliance is preventing suicide by promoting a comprehensive public health approach that empowers the Clarksville-Montgomery County community to take action.
#BeThere Clarksville will serve to introduce the community to the Clarksville Suicide Prevention Alliance and to kick off its efforts to reduce suicide through effective messaging, caregiver training, and data gathering and analysis. A longer-term goal is to establish structure and funding for a full-time community suicide prevention coordinator.
The free and informative event will include guest speakers, panel discussions and booths staffed by veterans advocacy and service organizations. Light refreshments will be served.
“Clarksville got involved in this partnership with the VA and SAMHSA in 2018, and a group of dedicated community leaders has been working hard to launch this vital organization,” said Bill Harpel, City of Clarksville Military Liaison, and chairman of The Alliance. “This summit is a kick-off event to acquaint everyone with our goals and objectives and provide good information that people can use day-to-day to reduce suicide.”
Suicide is a major public health concern that overall is the 10th leading cause of death in America. It is estimated 45,000 Americans, including 6,000 veterans, die by suicide each year. In 2017, Tennessee reported 1,163 suicides, with 42 occuring in Clarksville-Montgomery County.
IF YOU NEED HELP
Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a veteran in crisis, can contact the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, send a text message to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.
Others may call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Or text TN to 741741 to connect to the Crisis Text Line and a trained counselor.
Several members of the Clarksville Suicide Prevention Coalition -- Kara Merriam, Centerstone; Misty Leitsch, TSPN; Carrie Brensike, TN Valley VA; and Joey Smith, County Health Director -- work to plan #BeThere Clarksville, a suicide prevention summit from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Wilma Rudolph Events Center.