Community gathers Wednesday to discuss suicide prevention awareness

A year ago, a Columbus community in mourning began a conversation about death by suicide after two Columbus East students died within a week just before the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.

Another East classmate died by suicide about 14 months before that.

Beginning tonight, the conversation will move to a focus on helping promote suicide prevention awareness and specifically on how to help someone in need who might be considering taking their own life.

A Suicide Prevention Awareness event will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Columbus North High School cafeteria, modeled after a similar inaugural event a year ago that brought together hundreds of local students to talk about death by suicide.

On Thursday, all of Bartholomew Consolidated secondary schools will have two or three counselors at a table during school hours to offer information, guidance and support to any student who asks for help for themselves or a friend who might be intent on self-harm.

“In my 20 years here, one of the hard things I know, that we will lose four to five kids a year, and one of those will be death by suicide,” said Larry Perkinson, employee and student assistance coordinator for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.

But even with knowing that, Perkinson said the county has not had a suicide completion among the high school population in the past year, although he acknowledges there have been attempts.

“But we’ve not had silence either,” he said.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.