Middletown, NJ:  On Wednesday, September 12, 2018 the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS) hosted its first Women of Wellness and Wonder Luncheon at the Navesink Country Club.  Nearly 200 attendees enjoyed the event dedicated to women’s holistic health and wellness during what is national suicide prevention month.

A gathering honoring community, resiliency, and well-being, the luncheon recognized philanthropist Maureen Lloyd as Wellness & Wonder Woman of the Year. Maureen is involved in numerous non-profit organizations. She has been a board member, and for the last ten years the president of the Board of Trustees of the Monmouth Park Charity Fund, which to date has donated over $9.4 million to local charities. Guest at the luncheon and Director of Business Development for Comfort Keepers Homecare, Linda Sirico commented, "Every now and then you meet someone who really makes a significant positive impression on you and a noticeable difference in the community. For me that person is Maureen Lloyd. She is intelligent, beautiful, kind and extremely thoughtful. Maureen lives her life giving back her time, energy and resources to worthy causes. This cause today is near to my heart. I salute her for all she has done and continues to do. She is a genuine woman of substance."

Keynote speaker, Tara Geraghty, discussed her life experiences as an entrepreneur, domestic violence survivor and mother of a child cancer survivor. Geraghty delivered the important message about resiliency and self-care, citing examples of how she overcame challenges in her life that helped her develop her inner strength. Guest Kymberly Mate of CSAV Systems commented, "It was an honor to be here today and Tara's speech was so inspiring. I think everyone in the room who heard her speak was moved in some way. The afternoon was really amazing."

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The inspiration behind the founding of SPTS was personal in that two families who had teenage children that had died by suicide, had a vision to help others by raising awareness. The keynote speaker Tara Geraghty commented, "Looking over this room today with over 180 people present, you realize the impact and fruition of a vision inspired by the two families who have taken their grief and turned it into a positive force to help others. What an incredible way to honor their children. Teen suicide doesn't just touch a family, it touches an entire community. As a mom of a pre-teen, I am humbled to be a part of such a powerful event." 

Suicide, especially youth suicide is a national epidemic and has risen to the second leading cause of death in young people in the U.S. ages 15-34.  Almost 45,000 Americans die by suicide every year. Monmouth County has the 2nd highest rate of youth suicide in New Jersey. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average in the U.S. there are 121 suicides a day and 16 of the 121 are youths.

Local vendors who support holistic health and wellness needs across various categories, including self-care, life coaching, nutrition, physical fitness, travel, and entertainment exhibited at the event.

The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS) was founded in 2005 by two Monmouth county fathers, who each experienced the devastating loss of a teenage child by suicide. SPTS firmly believes that accessible quality education and public awareness about teen suicide can save young lives. The core values that define SPTS and its founding board are passionate commitment to the value of life, belief in the effectiveness of evidence based suicide prevention strategies, dedication to removing public stigma about suicide and conviction that accurate information and education about suicide can save lives. The mission of SPTS is to reduce the number of youth suicides and attempted suicides by encouraging public awareness through the development and promotion of educational training programs. SPTS offers a variety of resources on its website that can be downloaded and duplicated at no cost. For more information on what you or your community can to do help prevent suicide, or to make a donation to this important cause visit us at sptsusa.org

Teens in NJ can access help through text/call 2nd Floor Youth Helpline 888-222-2228 24/7.  Anyone can text help to 741741 to reach the Crisis Help Line or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255 (TALK)

Sponsors for the Women of Wellness event are:

-Hackensack Meridian Health

-Maureen Lloyd

-Grunin Holdings

-Jay & Linda Grunin Foundation

-NJ Natural Gas

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-Allied Group, Hospitality Renovation Experts

-Investors Bank

-Hackensack Meridian Health, Meridian Health Foundation

All photography in this article was provided by Tom Zapcic Photography. Tom can be reached at 732.747.6674