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Attendees will hear from physicians, suicide prevention specialists, law enforcement leaders and more

Suicide is not talked about very often.

That's why local agencies have come together to offer Hope & Help: The Reasons You Need to Know About Youth Suicide. The final regional session is planned for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 26 at Barnes Butte Elementary.

Event organizers point out that as a parent, it is difficult at times to recognize the difference between the typical problems teens have while growing up verses the more serious ones.

"What we're trying to do is basically provide more of an open conversation around suicide and suicide prevention," said David Visiko, the suicide prevention coordinator for Deschutes County. "If someone were to be at risk and they would speak to someone who they trust about it, then that person can listen with compassion and empathy, identify the warning signs and get that person the help that they deserve."

This Hope & Help event will empower parents and youth to talk about suicide and depression. They will learn how they can help normalize conversations about suicide prevention, how to find resources in the community that support youth and adults through stressful times, and how to help children navigate current entertainment in ways that facilitate increased parent-child communication.

Hope & Help is a combined effort between St. Charles, Bend Police Department, Deschutes County Health Services and regional school districts.

During the Prineville session, Mimi Graves, a survivor of suicide loss, will share her story. The Bend woman lost a son to suicide.

Bend practitioner Cheryl Emerson, who trains on suicide prevention, will then present basics around suicide prevention — the data, how to utilize protective factors, and how to identify some of the warning signs.

Next, a panel of seven community experts will participate in a Q & A with the audience. Panel members may include locals who work in the emergency department or primary care at St. Charles, law enforcement officers, behavioral health representatives and teens.

"The idea is that we provide an outlet for people to fill out questions in the audience so that they can anonymously ask the panel anything," Visiko explained.

Local and statewide resources will also be available during the event.

"This is an opportunity for people to really start to get this topic into the open, have the dialogue and know that there's resources available for both the person at risk or the person who is the caring provider who wants to get help for themselves or that other person," Visiko said.

He pointed out that during the school year, there's plenty of support networks in place, from the school-based health centers to counselors to teachers, but when school ends, they wanted to make sure that people are aware of the availability of resources that exist within all regional communities so that if a person is at risk, they could reach out and get the help that they deserve.

The local Hope & Help session is the final one in the region. Four others were held in neighboring communities.

"We've had quite a positive response ... based on participant evaluations after the fact," Visiko said, noting that the event is open to the public, particularly to parents, families and guardians of middle and high school students as well as teens. Educators and those in the health care field may also find the session informative.

"I think that there has been a bit of a spike, but that has occurred across the age spectrum," Visiko said of suicide numbers in the region. "Any suicide is going to affect a community."

Hope & Help information

Date: 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 26

Location: Barnes Butte Elementary School, 1875 NE Iron Horse Way, Prineville

Suicide prevention resources

Lifeline: 1-800-273 TALK (8255) or text 273TALK to 839-863

Lutheran Community Services: 541-323-5330

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