Coalition unveils ‘Seneca Strong’ campaign tackling suicide prevention

The Seneca County Suicide Prevention Coalition and Seneca County Substance Abuse Coalition, a joint-partnership between Seneca County and the United Way unveiled a new ‘Seneca Strong’ campaign – highlighting the strength seen in the local community.

“We want to take a moment to acknowledge the strengths we see in our community and help everyone remember that actions can make a difference,” the Seneca County Suicide Prevention Coalition said in a prepared statement. “We show kindness to one another. We support each other. We reach out for help when we need it. We see that others get help when they need it; and we’re starting to have the tough conversations,” the statement continued. “We are resilient, determined, and together – we are Seneca Strong!”

Seneca County Community Services Director Margaret Morse said that while challenging work remains ahead – the Suicide Prevention Coalition remains a great way to get involved, and advocate for those struggling with mental health. “In light of recent local and national events, we want to support our community and make them aware of our coalition as a resource,” Director Morse explained.

The last general membership meeting, which was held at the Seneca County Office Building saw dozens turn out to learn more, and support the coalition’s efforts. As for getting involved – it’s as easy as attending a local meeting. “Become part of the solution,” Director Morse added. “Lots of local organizations – like this one – are looking for membership and support from residents.”

Community Educator Natalee Carroll added that the Suicide Prevention Coalition serves as a great opportunity for the community to get involved. “I can’t think of a cause more worthy of our time and efforts than saving lives. I know that sounds cliché, but that is exactly what the Suicide Prevention Coalition was formed to do – save lives,” she said. “

It’s not a task that one person can take on, either. “Preventing these tragic losses cannot be done by one agency, church, school or family. It’s going to take the whole community. The ‘community’ isn’t ‘out there somewhere’. It’s me and it’s you. It’s the couple that own the diner down the road and all the people who enjoy eating there, it’s our bus drivers and the young people they shuttle, it’s the police and the many lives that they touch – it’s every single one of us,” added Carroll. “We must come together to protect it.”

Christopher Folk, who recently dealt with one of these tragedies said that the urgency to get involved is often missing until people are ‘directly impacted’. Collaboratively, Christopher and Tiffany Folk became engaged after the unexpected loss of their son, Tristan, who was a graduate of Waterloo High School and a freshman at RIT. “We have taken steps to get involved and to promote suicide awareness and prevention causes. To that end, we understand full well the pain and tragedy that is felt when suicide strikes close to home,” he explained. “We believe that using our voice and devoting our time and resources are critical to help prevent these tragedies which seem to occur with alarming frequency. We realize that there is nothing we can do now to save our son, however, if we can be part of something larger than us, then we can hopefully save someone else’s loved one, so that the pain we feel each and every day is never felt by anyone else.”

Folk added that the coalition has a unique opportunity to reach members of the community who may not be engaged on the issue now. “We can’t look to a national strategy to work on the local level. We need to take action now and engage. We have a vested interest in all of the members of our community.”

The coalition has seen growing turnout to general membership meetings since the start of the 2017-18 school year. These sessions are held every-other month, and are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for April 24, 2018 at 10:30 a.m.

The Seneca County Suicide Prevention Coalition recently launched a Facebook Page to provide residents with a platform to highlight the activities happening in their community to help address this issue. Visit their page by going to www.facebook.com/SenecaSuicidePrevention or searching “Seneca County Suicide Prevention Coalition” on Facebook.

For more information regarding Mental Health and Addictions Resources contact the Seneca County Community Counseling Center at (315) 539-1980.

Those interested in learning more about the Seneca County Suicide Prevention Coalition can contact the United Way of Seneca County at (315) 539-1135.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicide, seek help immediately:

Crisis Text Line: 741741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-TALK ~(8255)~ www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Also on FingerLakes1.com