Four years ago local professionals from the mental health and other health care fields saw a great need in the community for support and education around suicide prevention. These community members and others answered the call for action and started The Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The mission of The Alliance states, “The Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention recognizes that suicide is a community wide problem. The Alliance is dedicated to protecting and promoting life by fostering shared responsibility through raising awareness and community supports while embracing hopefulness and resiliency in the Chautauqua region.”
Since the founding in 2011, The Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention has collaborated with a number of local organizations to educate community members on the warning signs of depression as well as provide resources for individuals, providers and families to get help. The Alliance also trains community members on how to recognize risk factors and warning signs of suicide.
Recently, co-coordinators of The Alliance, Jon Anderson and Victoria Patti established a non-endowed fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to serve as a depository for local donations that will support local programs for individuals and families in need. Over the past several years the Alliance and its partner agencies have worked together to train over 1000 local community members from all walks of life in suicide prevention and awareness. Jon Anderson explained, “As these efforts have developed, we are now pleased that the newly formed partnership with the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation will allow us to further our reach and permit community members to support the efforts while keeping funds local. We are grateful for the openness of the Foundation to partner and we know that we will accomplish much more as a result.”
Randy Sweeney, Community Foundation executive director, states it is a devastating time for all when a suicide occurs. “Recognizing that a majority of individuals who take their own life, potentially have a treatable mental disorder at the time of their death, it’s important that we have resources available, not only for them, but for their families as well,” he said.
In addition to preventative and intervention type services, The Alliance also provides resources for postvention services.
“As an Alliance, we provide trainings in the community to help individuals recognize warning signs of suicide and what to do if you suspect a loved one or a stranger is thinking of taking their own life. It is so important that we talk about these concerns and don’t brush them aside and hope they go away. We need to create a community culture in which we feel comfortable in talking about mental health openly and honestly in order to receive the support and resources necessary to work towards wellness,” said Victoria Patti when asked about The Alliance. “We hope that this partnership with the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation serves as a way to reach those we might not have had the opportunity in the past; including possible partners, community members to train and those who have a personal connection to the cause and would like to contribute to our work,” continued Victoria.
The Alliance meets on the second Friday of every month to discuss community issues as well as plan upcoming educational events. The meetings are open to the public at Jamestown Community College in the Carnahan Building at 9:30 a.m. To learn more about the events they host and for more information, visit their Facebook page by searching for “The Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention.”