Panel meets to discuss suicide prevention

Gordon County Family Connection launched September = Suicide Prevention Month with a panel discussion at their monthly meeting on Thursday, Sept. 1. Nearly 50 attendees heard the discussion which aspects of suicide prevention, including the topics removing access to lethal means like prescription drugs, household chemicals and firearms; making access to mental health and safety plans more available; the new Georgia law – the Jason Flatt Act – requiring annual suicide prevention education training for certificated school system personnel, school support for families and Sources of Strength programs for resiliency; emergency room treatment; and the importance of removing the stigma of seeking and obtaining mental health.

Georgia House Bill 198 - the Jason Flatt Act – was championed by Katie Dempsey of Rome. The Georgia assembly law states that suicide cuts across ethnic, economic, social and age boundaries and has a tremendous and traumatic impact on surviving family members, friends and the community at large. After unintentional injury, suicide has become the leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 and 24.

At a time when unintentional injuries have been on the decline, suicides have increased, and suicide is a complex issue that requires school, family and community resources be harnessed for appropriate and timely help to be available in order to prevent suicide.

One federally approved training for this is QPR – Question, Persuade, Refer. Three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to help. Both CPR and QPR are part of systems designed to increase the chance of survival in the event of a crisis.

The two-hour training for QPR is available later this month and it is open to anyone at no cost. This is an important free training for anyone in our community who interacts with anyone who might be having a difficult time, feeling sad, or for people who are interested in understanding how to help another person. The two-hour class is available on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. – noon at the Calhoun-Gordon County Library, and on Monday, Sept. 26, from 3 – 5 p.m. at the Voluntary Action Center training room, or on Friday, Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. – noon at the Calhoun-Gordon County Library. Register online at:

For more information please contact Roberta Charbonneau at 706-602- 5139 or email

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