Governor’s suicide prevention task force seeking answers in York County

York

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

YORK, Pa. (WHTM) -“The state task force needs to understand that this is real,” said founder of Suicide Prevention of York founder Cindy Richard.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s Suicide Prevention Task Force came to York on Thursday night, looking for the public’s input on how to reduce suicide statewide.

For the past couple of years, York County’s suicide rates have been notoriously high.

Fifteen-year-old Mya Minnich knows what it’s like to feel hopeless.

“No one knew what I was going through because at school, I was really, really happy, and I had a lot of friends. I energized myself through my friends,” said Mya, who is a freshman at Northeastern High School.

Her friends helped mask her pain even to her mother, who is a clinical psychologist. One desperate night, she came clean. 

“I said, ‘mom, I’m not safe, like this is really bad,’ and she said, ‘okay, we can get you help,'” Mya said.

That help wasn’t going to come for another seven months, but with her mom’s connections, she was able to see a psychiatrist in just a month. 

“This is something I don’t tell a lot of people, but I feel like if I wouldn’t have gotten in within that month, I wouldn’t have been alive,” Mya said.

Cindy Richard has been fighting to prevent suicide since 2007.

That year saw 25 suicides in York County; last year had 93. 

“One is too many. We haven’t had a month without a suicide since December 1999. So, we’re coming on 20 years.” said Cindy Richard, Suicide Prevention of York founder.

Some of the most common suggestions were reducing psychiatrist wait times, checking in with people after they’ve attempted suicide and making sure all mental health professionals have proper training. 

“What I’m understanding is that they can be trained on the internet. They can be trained whatever, but I think there needs to be specific rules where they’re actually certified,” Richard said.

Some want certification for parents, too. Mya said parents should know how to talk to their kids about suicide. 

“Almost if there was like someplace they could go online and there could be like a worksheet or questions to ask them,” she said.

Also in attendance was York County mother, Jackie Bieber. Her daughter, Shawn, completed suicide in May with the help of an internet message board. She is currently working with lawmakers to pass Shawn’s Law, which will provide harsher penalties for people who encourage and aid in suicide. 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can learn more by going to their website, click here. To learn more about Gov. Wolf’s Statewide Suicide Prevention Task Force click here. To contact Gov. Wolf with your idea about suicide prevention, click here.

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