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Marshfield Area Parent Network Holds Suicide Information Program
Friday, September 14th, 2018 -- 9:07 am
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director

(WDLB) -An overflow crowd of nearly 300 turned out in Marshfield last night to hear more about suicide, and ways to identify it before it happens.

The Marshfield Area Parent Network hosted the event at Marshfield Clinic's Laird Center. Jodi Chojnacki is a health educator with Marshfield Clinic's Center for Community Health Advancement, and said she was pleased with last night's turnout--especially since the latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal intent and suicide attempts among teenagers.

"Some of the trends we're seeing is more problems with sleep. We're seeing a lot of screen time, which is less time actually emotionally connected to other people face-to-face. So, for instance, when they're posting on Facebook or other social media, they're putting their best face forward and not necessarily truly sharing when they're struggling or what they're going through and yet that's exactly what we need to do, so they loved ones around us will reach out and support us."

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction says the Badger State has one of the highest suicide rates among teenagers in the country, and yet there are signs that - if identified - could prevent such tragedies. And so Chojnacki wants everyone in the community to know what the warning signs of suicide are.

"And I have to tell you that I was out in the community all last week and we engaged the public with almost 5,000 flyers that had suicide warning signs, it had the crisis line numbers and then it also had this film, which is free to the public. I was really overwhelmed by how much people confided and shared and appreciated us being in the community. Advocating for people to get help. Pain, whether emotional or physical, deserves help. And it's time in 2018 to get rid of the stigma of mental health."

Chojnacki last night showed a documentary entitled "Suicide--the Ripple Effect". It features the story of Kevin Hines, who in 2000 leapt off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay, and became one of just 36 to survive the fall. And he's the only one actively spreading the message of living mentally healthy. The Golden Gate Bridge--unlike the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building--does not have a suicide barrier.

"One person goes to this bridge to die every 7-10 days. And if you thought of any other two mile stretch of land around the world, land, a street, a road, that had this many deaths, that road would be shut down."

Hines is featured in a movie called "The Bridge". He's one of the two-thousand plus people who have made the jump off the Golden Gate Bridge since it was built in 1937. It's known as the suicide magnet of the world, and is the most-used suicide site in the U.S. According to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, nearly 12-percent of Marshfield's teenagers reported self-harm behaviors like cutting or burning. 25-percent reported being treated by a doctor or other mental health professional for a mental or emotional health problem. 15-percent seriously considered attempting suicide, and seven-percent attempted suicide one or more times. For more information, help or other resources, contact the Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Advancement at 221-8400.

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