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Suicide awareness message displays on mobile billboard

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September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – September is National Suicide Awareness Month and the Mental Health Association (MHA) wants the community to know there is help available by displaying a digital billboard driving throughout Springfield.

“It gets people’s attention. There’s a lot of impressions made going up and down the streets,” said Justin Peritore, the driver of the mobile billboard.

The billboard that displays digitally on a truck shows the Suicide Prevention Lifeline that can be called 24/7 at 800-273-8255 or local resources at MHA’s BestLife Emotional Health and Wellness Center at 844-MHA-WELL also provides services and support. The illuminated billboard is hard to miss in hopes to get people talking about resources for suicide prevention.

“I hope that they get the same thing that I got out of it which is actually utilizing the phone number and calling it to get yourself some help or if it’s not for you find what you can do for somebody else,” said Peritore.

“We are participating in this awareness effort to achieve a simple goal: to help people recognize a serious public health problem so everyone can talk about it,” said Sara Kendall, MSW, LICSW, MHA’s Vice President of Clinical Operations. “We can all benefit from open dialogue about mental health and suicide, because just one conversation could save life. Being there, whether in person or through the many ways people stay in touch these days, could save a life. Throughout Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we’ll reach out to dispel myths, discuss mental health and encourage conversations that could be life-saving. We want to help people know what it means to be there.”

The goal of the awareness effort is to help people recognize that suicide is a serious public health problem.
According to the department of public health, from March 2020 to December 2020, 127 patients on average went to the emergency room every week after suicide attempts.

“Suicide is not the only or ever the right option. There is help out that’s out there and available for people,” said Kimberly Lee, VP of Resource Development and Branding at MHA.

According to the CDC, nearly 50,000 people die from suicide each year, that’s one death from suicide every 10.5 minutes. It also found to be the 3rd leading cause of death in people between the ages 15 to 24 years.

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