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Eastern to host documentary, panel discussion Sept. 18 for National Suicide Prevention Month

9/5/2018


WILBURTON, OK (Sept. 5, 2018) – Eastern Oklahoma State College will host a screening of “The S Word” at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18 in the Tourtellotte Student Center Ballroom in Wilburton. September is National Suicide Prevention Month and Eastern is partnering with CREOKS Behavioral Health Services to host the event in an effort to raise awareness about suicide as a critical public health issue.

The screening of the powerful, award-winning documentary is free and open to the public. A panel discussion with survivors, parents and service providers will immediately follow the documentary.

Stacy Williams, the Southeast Oklahoma director of Children’s Services for CREOKS Behavioral Health Services, said professional counselors will be on hand after the event should attendees need to talk.

“This event will address the stigma around suicide, as well as the stigma around seeking help for mental health issues,” Williams said. “We hope this event will bring awareness to the importance of seeking help and everyone’s role in keeping our communities healthy.”

“The S Word” documentary came about from suicide survivor Dese’Rae Stage’s project LiveThroughThis.org, a personal mission to find fellow survivors and document their stories of unguarded courage, insight and humor. During her efforts, she discovered a national community rising to transform personal struggles into action.

According to the filmmakers, “the most dangerous word is silence. Speaking the word suicide is not the problem. It’s the silence that so often surrounds it.” The film was directed by Lisa Klein, a survivor of both her father’s and brother’s suicides.

“There is no more highly charged personal issue for me, and for that reason I am driven to document it and open a much needed conversation,” Klein stated on the film’s website. “It is time for us to boldly talk about suicide because no family should have to experience that which radiates outward for generations to come.”

Suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state, according to the latest Vital Signs report released in June 2018 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. In Oklahoma, suicide rates increased 37.6 percent from 1999 to 2016.

Oklahoma has the eighth-highest suicide rate in the nation and it is the second leading cause of death among college students, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Trish McBeath, vice president of Student and External Affairs at Eastern, said the college is committed to providing a forum for open discussion and education to help erase the stigma surrounding suicide.

“This is an incredibly important issue for our young adults and it is preventable,” McBeath said. “We want to make every effort to help educate the public about the warning signs and risk factors involved and provide information about resources available in the area. For those who are struggling, we offer a message of hope and understanding. There is no shame in asking for help.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, confidential support for people in distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The toll-free phone number is 1-800-273-8255 or a texting option is available by texting “connect” to 741-741.

For more information about the event, contact McBeath at tmcbeath@eosc.edu or 918-465-1804.

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