SUMMIT, NJ - More than 50 adults attended 'Let’s Talk', a seminar focusing on sharing facts and data to bring awareness to the problem of suicide, its risk factors and the protective factors against it, at Summit's Renaissance Church. Participants were taught the warning signs to watch for and then provided with the ABCs of suicide intervention – a set of skills that anyone can use to make a difference in someone's life.

“Depression and suicide are epidemics in America,” said Tom Hansen, Pastor of Student Ministry at Renaissance Church. "We want to change that. We care about our community and want everyone to know they are not alone. We want to help people be there for those in need."

Seventeen youth attended 'Teens Helping Teens' a program divided into two parts with the first focusing on prevention and helping teens focus on themselves and their emotional health, and the second giving participants tools to recognize distress in others and how to intervene.

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Both seminars -- led by Arlene Klemow, certified Master ASIST Trainer and director of training at Caring Contact -- provided a framework for understanding the problem of suicide, educated participants about the signs of emotional distress and suicidal ideation and provided specific words and phrases to use to talk to a person about whom individual is concerned. 

“I feel like I have tangible resources and knowledge," one participant said after the session. "I feel more enabled and empowered to help. I’m encouraged to hear others and know of this supportive Caring Contact community. I am much more aware of the problem of suicide now.”

Another said, “This training will allow me to help others in the future. The ABCs are so important, Act, Be there and Collaborate. It’s so important to remember these simple tools.”

In response to a survey question, one teen responded, “Feelings are not good or bad, it’s what you do with them that matters.”

“Our community awareness events are powerful ways to educate individuals, congregations and other groups about mental health and suicide awareness and intervention," said Janet Sarkos, executive director of Caring Contact. "We are seeing rising numbers of teen suicides in Union County alone. These events are our way of breaking the silence and giving people tools to help themselves and others. We invite other individuals and groups to reach out to us for education and training.”

For more information regarding Caring Contact's suicide prevention seminars -- or to schedule a session -- call Melinda Allen-Grote, the hotline's outreach coordinator, at 908-301-1899 or contact melinda.allengrote@caringcontact.org.

Those who are in crisis and need someone to listen, call Caring Contact at 908-232-2880. Those preferring to seek supporting through texting may text “heart” to 741-741.