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Second suicide town hall set for March 27

Krystle Wagner • Mar 24, 2017 at 4:00 PM

The communitywide conversation about suicide continues next week.

Community members will have a chance to share their own stories and their ideas about addressing suicide during part two of the Town Hall meeting. The event takes place 6:30-9 p.m. Monday, March 27, at the Grand Haven Community Center, 421 Columbus Ave.

TCM Counseling will host QPR Training 5-6 p.m. prior to the meeting.

In January, about 80 people attended the first meeting, where panelists discussed suicide and mental illness in Grand Haven and nearby communities.

Extended Grace Executive Director Barbara Lee Van Horssen said there are physical, emotional and community-oriented needs that need to be addressed. She said the idea of “us” and “them” needs to be removed.

“Mental illness and suicide is touching everyone in some way or another,” Van Horssen said.

To make a difference and raise awareness, Van Horssen said it needs to be a grassroots effort to connect people with organizations and be intentional about not duplicating what’s already being offered.

To assess gaps in services and take action, community members developed a task force. Stemming from the task force efforts, The Momentum Center at 715 Columbus Ave. in Grand Haven was formed. Although already open, the center officially opens its doors April 20.

The Depression Bipolar Support Alliance is also working to create a drop-in center.

The Family Support group, which meets the fourth Tuesday of every month, will now get together at the Momentum Center. The group provides support for people with loved ones who live with mental health challenges.

Van Horssen said local schools have been “phenomenal” with their efforts of training, and the local justice system is continuing its mental health first responder training and training in the prison system.

Van Horssen said a welcoming and stigma-free community will help in efforts for people to receive assistance, and the fact that conversations are taking place already sends a message that the community cares.

Van Horssen said one of the greatest reasons people commit suicide is silence.

“We just need to break the silence,” she said. “The more we can talk, the better.”

Community members needing transportation to or from the Town Hall meeting can contact Van Horssen at 616-502-2078 or email Barbara@extendedgrace.org. The deadline to set up transportation is noon today.

Copies of the Grand Haven Tribune’s special section about suicide are available in the Tribune office, 101 N. Third St.

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