• Livonia suicide prevention events to encourage more talking, listening

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    Suicide is a serious and heavy subject to discuss. It is difficult to interact with those who consider it because they are in such a hopeless and helpless state of mind.

    We tend to stay away from approaching people in the depths of depression. Many will rationalize the situation as “personal,” but those close to someone who ended his or her life feel an enormous guilty sense of “I wish I could have done something.”

    By simply encouraging those struggling to talk, experts say lives can be saved. There are two Livonia events in the coming weeks that are designed to help the community better recognize those battling depression and support them by listening without judgement.

    Talk Saves Lives: A Brief Introduction to Suicide Prevention will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 at the Livonia Civic Center Library. The free program will be presented by Livonia-based Hegira Health and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

    This event will focus on the leading causes that move people to take their lives, up-to-date research on prevention, and what the collective community can do to reduce suicide.

    Hegira Health is also offering suicide prevention training for business and human resources managers to better handle distressed employees. The training is also recommended for youth and religious leaders. Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) is a one-to-two-hour training seminar that can be held at the venue of your choice.

    Melissa Tolstyka, director of programs for Hegira Health, said all these efforts are designed to inspire more awareness and support for those dealing with severe depression and reduce suicides, which continues to grow as a leading cause of death in the United States.

    Contact Tolstyka for more information on the Sept. 19 program or the QPR training.

    Two weeks later, Churchill High School will be the site of a mental health awareness program that involves the crushing of cars.

    Crush the Stigma in an original event inspired by Michael Bassipour, partner of GLR Advanced Recycling, which has several Michigan locations including one on Stark Road in Livonia. Bassipour lost his brother to suicide a decade ago, he attributed the tragedy’s aftermath to the passing of his father a few years later.

    Bassipour plans to bring old cars and a car crusher to Churchill High School on Wednesday, Oct. 2 as part of a school assembly. St. Mary Mercy Livonia, Healthy Livonia, Livonia Public Schools and the Livonia Chamber of Commerce have partnered on the event which will focus on enhancing awareness and support skills among teenagers.

    After a presentation, students will be invited to write messages detailing any personal emotional distress on the cars, before they are crushed.

    “We wanted to do something significant to grab their attention,” Bassipour said. “We want to crush the stigma of mental illness so kids are not afraid to talk about what’s bothering them.”

    Livonia Public Schools officials said they will have an increased presence of psychologists and counselors on scene during the powerful presentation in the hope more students dealing with such struggles will talk.

    The goal of Livonia both events: Encourage more talking and better listening to save lives.
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