Tullahoma Mayor Ray Knowis announced the city of Tullahoma is recognizing the month of September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. He recently presented the proclamation to Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) volunteer Ellen Stowers to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the organization.
TSPN is a statewide public-private organization responsible for implementing the Tennessee Strategy for Suicide Prevention as defined by the 2001 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
According to its website, “TSPN works across the state to eliminate the stigma of suicide and educate communities about the warning signs of suicide, with the ultimate intention of reducing suicide rates in the state of Tennessee.”
Besides being a TSPN volunteer, Stowers also works for Contact Lifeline of the Highland Rim in Tullahoma.
According to the proclamation, suicide is the ninth-leading cause of death in the state and is the second-leading cause of death among the age range of 10 to 24 year. Suicide is the leading cause of death for children ages 10 through 17.
TSPN states public awareness is key to preventing further loss of life by suicide as well as education and treatment.
In 2019, Gov. Bill Lee declared suicide prevention to be a state priority and appointed a suicide prevention advisory council to coordinate the implementation of the TN Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
“Every member of our community should understand that throughout life’s struggles we all need an occasional reminder that we are silently fighting our own battles, and we encourage all Tennesseans to take the time to inquire as to the wellbeing of their family, friends and to genuinely convey their appreciation for their existence by any gesture they deem appropriate,” Knowis said as he read the proclamation.
“A simple phone call, message, handshake or hug can go a long way towards helping someone realize that suicide is the not answer.”
Knowis urged all citizens to work to raise awareness and tolerance to everyone who’s affected by suicide.
Stowers said TSPN has different activities planned for the month of September to bring awareness of suicide. Stowers added Contact Lifeline has been receiving a higher rate of calls from nurses and doctors to teenagers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our calls have spiked and we have every walk of life calling from nurses, doctors, people out of work and even teenagers because when school went virtual and not virtual and our kids are feeling the stress,” Stowers said.
She emphasized parents to be mindful of their children as they talk to them.
“Don’t discredit who they are or what their thought process is,” Stowers added.
Stowers said she started working with TSPN and Contact Lifeline when she nearly lost her son to suicide. She credits her daughter for recognizing the signs after taking classes in college and added Contact Lifeline offers these classes for anyone to take for free.
Stowers said she hopes the proclamation will help educate the public on suicide awareness and help is here.
“You’re not alone, even in COVID, you’re not alone as we are here,” Stowers stated. “We might be distant, we might be masked up but you are never alone when it comes to suicide and suicidal thoughts. You can always call us 24/7 we are here for you.”
If anyone has questions about TSPN can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 615-297-1077.
If you or anyone you know are having thoughts about suicide or are in a crisis, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or TEXT “TN” to 741-741.
If anyone needs to contact local resources for help in a crisis or thoughts of suicide, contact Tullahoma Lifeline, call 800-454-8336 or TEXT 931-247-0754 or the Family Counseling Center in Manchester at 931-723-0380.