Local groups come together to combat suicide


Coordinator Ron Lamon addresses participants before the awareness walk. / W.C. Mann

CULLMAN – On Saturday morning, groups from around north Alabama gathered in downtown Cullman to promote awareness of suicide and mental health issues.  Hosted by Vinemont Baptist Lifeline, a ministry of Vinemont Baptist Church, the event included representatives from Mental Healthcare of Cullman, the Alabama chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), Cullman County awareness and support group Just Live, and others.  A bouncy house and games were available for kids, and Spider Man even made an appearance.

Event Coordinator Ron Lamon explained, “A couple of years back, probably going on four years now, my best friend from high school took his own life.  And then, just recently, last November, my current best friend’s 19-year-old son took his own life. 

“This is a growing problem.  Daily this thing seems to be growing, and it’s getting out of hand.  I felt like we had to do something.  I’m not going to make but a small dent in this problem, but I’m going to try to do something.  Honestly, I just got fed up, and I don’t know what else to do.

“Awareness is not enough.  Everybody’s aware that there’s a problem.  You know, when you’re aware that you’re hungry, you eat.  When you’re aware that you’re tired, you sleep.  We’re aware of this problem, but we’re doing nothing.  So what I want to do is spark a conversation, to get people where they’re comfortable enough to speak about this problem, and seek help if they need help.

“Our end game, what I really want to do, is get suicide prevention in the classrooms.  I want to get something in the class curriculum.  They’re required to take health class and sex ed, along with these other classes, but there’s nothing for suicide prevention.  It’s a problem that needs to be talked about openly and discussed.  I’ve got a petition down there today, and I’m trying to get as many people as possible to sign.

“This is my first time doing this, and I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but I felt like I had to do something.”

Lashonda Robison and Alexis Maddox, along with other members of Just Live, came to support their sister group.  Said Robison, “No matter how many organizations there are, we’re all here to do it together.  It’s not only suicide prevention, but we’re also doing drug and alcohol addiction, because according to the statistics, they all run together.  We want people to live.  We want them to know that there’s people out there they can talk to, that want them to live, that want them to know that they’re important.  You know, every life matters, no matter if you’re a drug addict, no matter if you have a criminal history; no matter what the situation is, we just want you to live.”

Representatives of Mental Healthcare of Cullman and AFSP addressed the crowd, followed by personal accounts from people who have survived suicide attempts and those who have lost a family member to suicide.

A big theme of the day was talking, with calls for people to talk to friends or family members who appear to be in danger, and calls for those in danger to talk to friends or a help line.  Honest communication in both directions was promoted as the first key to survival for those on the verge of self-harm.

Keith and Delinda Cain, along with family friends, came down from Arab to remember their son Cory, who committed suicide in 2015.  To kids in danger, Keith Cain offered a simple piece of advice:

“Don’t hide it with a smile.”

Find Vinemont Baptist Lifeline online at www.facebook.com/VinemontBaptistLifeline.

For those in immediate danger, contact AFSP at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For a detailed listing of danger signs as well as numerous phone, text and online contacts for help, see our February story wwwcullmansense.com/articles/2017/02/02/cullman-co-sees-frightening-increase-suicides.

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