Jason Foundation hosts suicide prevention seminar in Grand Ballroom

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), along with the Jason Foundation, Inc. (JFI), Capital Regional Behavioral Health Center, National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Tallahassee, and Children's Home Society (CHS) presented a suicide prevention seminar Jan. 25 in FAMU’s Grand Ballroom.

Shonda Knight, who is the executive director of community and media relations for the Leon County sheriff’s office, welcomed and introduced Clark Flatt as the guest speaker for the evening.

“This conversation can really help lead to resources and understanding for what people may feel like is a life ending situation,” Knight said. “The Jason Foundation was founded in October 1997 after the tragic death of our speakers’ youngest son. Since its founding, JFI has grown to be one of the nation's leading nonprofit organizations addressing the national health problem of youth suicide.”

Flatt, who has dedicated over 20 years to suicide prevention and awareness and is the president of JFI, said that suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people.

“Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10-14 in our nation,” Flatt added.

According to the JFI website, four out of five teens who attempt suicide give clear warning signs of suicidal ideation. Some of those warning signs include talking about suicide, a loss of interest in the things one cares about, taking unnecessary risks and out of character behavior.

Flatt also acknowledged participating vendors and sponsors, such as the Leon County sheriff's office, CHS, the Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team of the Big Bend and NAMI Tallahassee.

Mary Bowers with NAMI Tallahassee discussed the organization’s goal of raising suicide awareness to the community and introduced the LOSS team.

NAMI Tallahassee is the local affiliate of the National Alliance of Mental Illness serving Leon County and surrounding areas. The LOSS team distributes essential information to survivors of suicide attempt including support and experienced resources, reading materials and other information associated with suicide prevention and awareness.

“NAMI’s mission is to support advocacy, education, and research for people with mental illness, their families, and friends,” Bowers said.

Since JFI is dedicated to the prevention of youth suicide through educational and awareness programs, the Jason Act was first introduced and passed in Tennessee in 2007. Since then,19 states have passed the Jason Flatt Act, which requires all educators in the state to complete two hours of youth suicide awareness and prevention training each year in order to be able to be licensed to teach.  

“The Jason Foundation is here to help you in any way that we can to stop this silent epidemic of youth suicide. We work and go out in the communities and give seminars and give programs to schools and give training to teachers,” Flatt said.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of preventable death in our nation and any adolescent’s desire or intent to harm themselves should be taken seriously. If you suspect anyone of suicidal ideation you should get professional help involved immediately.