CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) – Alexa Moody knows what it feels like to be suicidal.

“It was just this cloud that followed me wherever I went,” Moody said.

She says she felt that way as early as 9 years old.

“I couldn’t shake it,” she said. “I couldn’t get away from it, and on top of that, I didn’t know I was sick. I just thought this was what life was.”

Alexa wasn’t taught what depression was at that age. It took her five years to reach out for help.

“If I would have known that when I was in elementary school, then I would have gotten help sooner and not waited until I was suicidal to get help,” she said.

Alexa tells her story to educate as a pioneer member of Cumberland County’s Suicide Prevention Task Force, created this year after a rise in suicide deaths countywide.

“We believe that suicide is preventable,” said Annie Strite, senior human services manager in Cumberland and Perry counties. “We believe with the appropriate interventions and help, it doesn’t have to be that way.”

The Cumberland County coroner’s office counts 24 suicide deaths so far this year, a seven percent increase from last year. Suicide is also increasing steadily nationwide.

The task force posts billboards, hosts public forums, and teaches people what to look for and where to go.

“We want to have that sense of interconnectivity always, so that if we know somebody that is struggling, it’s our role to reach out as part of their community,” Strite said.

Mental Illness Awareness Week begins Sunday night with a candlelight vigil on the lawn of the Perry County Courthouse in New Bloomfield.

If you or a loved one needs help, please call the Holy Spirit Crisis Intervention Call Center at 1-800-365-HELP or 1-717-763-2222.

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