Tuesday seemed to be a fitting time to talk about loss of loved ones. At 6 p.m. Veterans Day, members of the Syracuse community gathered together to talk about the white elephant in the room, suicide.
With the help of the Bowen Center, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce, and Syracuse Police Department, the Syracuse Community Center was able to create an environment where talking about the effects and decisions of suicide was open.
Led by Huntter Randal, Bowen Center, the community learned some alarming statistics. Indiana is the number one state in suicide rates, and number two in the entire nation. Mary Gerard, chamber of commerce, said, “the fact that we are all here talking about it is the first step.”
Randal referenced a program developed by psychologist Paul Quinett, called QPR. QPR is an acronym for “question, persuade, refer.” This program was developed to essentially give families, friends, teachers and doctors permission to ask the question to those who may seem a little “off.” “I’m giving you permission,” said Randal, “say something.”
More than 90 percent of suicides are from preventable causes, including depression, mental disorders and even drug and alcohol abuse. Randal and the Syracuse community finds these rates intolerable.
Randal covered ways to recognize signs of suicidal people, such as pulling away from a group at church or school, or possibly giving away loved and cherished items or pets. He said anything causing a little red flag is what gives the friend or family member permission to ask, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Randal also showed the group ways to sit and talk with someone about such a sensitive subject. He recommended turning off the cellphones and laptops, and making a personal, face-to-face conversation, preferably in a private setting.
He said most people are surprised by how badly suicidal people want someone else to know. Suicide knows no limits on age, race or gender and varies widely.
Randal also covered alarming statistics about the effects of America’s current wars. According to Randall, the number of men and women killed in battle in current wars is half of the number of men and women who come home from battle and take their own lives by suicide. Randal said, “Don’t we owe those people some care when they get home?”
Police Chief Tony Ciriello closed the meeting by thanking the Syracuse community for joining in the discussion. He asked people put their knowledge to use in the Wawasee area, as he referenced too many nights having to tell families they had lost a loved one. He said, “I’m tired of it … I don’t like it … it takes courage to ask that question. Make a point to listen.”