ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – About 46,000 people in the United States died by suicide in 2020, according to the CDC. Suicide is a leading cause of death in children and adults, but recognizing the warning signs isn’t always easy.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, a time to highlight the many resources available for people struggling with depression or having thoughts of suicide.
The Veterans Awareness Center (VOC) of Rochester recognizes this important week with a variety of different events for veterans and their families.
“Veterans are at a very high risk of suicide. We have more than 22 veterans who commit suicide every day, which is double the national average,” said Laura Stradley, executive director of the VOC.
Stradley said while the community has made progress in addressing suicide, there’s still a long way to go. To help, the VOC is hosting the following events this week to help raise awareness about suicide prevention.
Tuesday, September 6: Raise the flag for the awareness event: 12 p.m. at the Highland Bowl in Rochester
“The butterfly is a symbol of hope and so we invite the public to join us, anyone who has been affected by suicide in their life, or perhaps someone who really wants to help stem this tide for others. who are facing this challenge,” Stradley said. “So you come out, we just have a very casual gathering, we pass out American flags, people take a little time to think, and then we do a butterfly release at the end, symbolizing the hope that still exists for people struggling with mental health and challenges.
Wednesday, September 7: Workshop on emerging from the crisis: 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the RIT Inn and Conference Center in Henrietta
“We have an impactful lineup coming up that day for guest speakers. We have Major General Greg Martin, and he’s been involved with bipolar disorder. He started to feel the effects of that in the beginning while he was on duty, when he was actually in combat, and so he calls it his ‘eternal war,’” Stradley said. “He’s actually going to come over from Florida and talk about the impact of bipolar disorder and mental health on the military.”
Dr. William Gibson, clinical psychologist, will also discuss the effects of PTSD and how veterans can move beyond it. Sheriff Todd Baxter of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department will explain how law enforcement and mental health work together and how people can receive support.
Friday September 9: Armed with Creativity II: A Veterans Art Show: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Flower City Studios in Rochester
“Art therapy is a wonderful way for veterans to express their challenges and express themselves and the things they’ve been through,” Stradley said. “Every year we have an art exhibit for our veterans who have created art, and through their self-expression others can come and they can see that and it’s a very healing process for our veterans. .”
The art exhibit will showcase the talent of local veterans and their work, including fine art, carpentry, ceramics, pottery, photography, songwriting and creative writing.
You can learn more about events and National Suicide Prevention Week by visiting the COV website here. The national suicide and crisis lifeline is 9-8-8.