Coming out of the Labor Day holiday weekend, some local advocates want people to have a conversation about a rather uncomfortable subject, suicide. This is National Suicide Prevention Week, and those who work closely with individuals in need of help are seeking opportunities to not only raise awareness but further a message of hope.
In Erie County, Crisis Services is bringing information to a coffee shop near you in a campaign known as "Tough Enough to Talk." Patrons of participating establishments will find tabletop cards featuring information including waranings signs as well as contact information for those thinking of committing the act.
"The goal of the 'Tough Enough To Talk' campaign is really to show that there is strength in seeking help," said Jessica Pirro, CEO of Crisis Services. "There is strength in talking. We want to kind of prevent the viewpoint that by reaching out you are weak. That's really strength that you're using the power within you to get the help that you need."
Pirro suggests that many people considering suicide are not really interested in dying but are desperately looking to relive the pain going on in their lives.
"Unfortunately for a lot of people, the choice then is to actually end their lives," Pirro said. "We're trying to prevent and intervene before it gets to that place. and that action that happens and causes the suicide to occur."
Pirro also suggested people should shy away from considering suicide a "selfish" act, and urges the community to act and provide the support that keeps people from making that fatal decision.
The tabletop cards are Crisis Services' way of starting the conversation. Another campaign underway is online, known as "22 Push-Ups." That campaign works in the same way as the "Ice Bucket Challenge" worked previously for ALS awareness and fundraising. The goal of "22 Push-Ups" is to invite and challenge individuals to do the pushups as they raise awareness of military veteran suicides, usually brought on by battles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
WBFO asked Pirro about the campaign, and whether there were concerns that people might participate but more for the attention on their own selves and less on the cause.
As she sees it, it's another way to bring the issue front and center.
"I think when we look at different awareness activities, we're trying to engage people in different ways," she said. "The push-up activity is yet another way that we're trying to bring attention, specifically to veterans which is a high concern, of the rates of suicides among our veterans."
Numerous activities are planned in Western New York during National Suicide Prevention Week, which will run through Saturday night.