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A spotlight was put on suicide prevention this week with a proclamation of September as Suicide Prevention Month in Lincoln County by the Board of Commissioners.

This is part of a national effort with the theme this year: “Finding hope, Building Resiliency, Supporting Recovery.”

The local county crisis coordinator can be reached at 1-866-266-0288. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The number is 1-800-273-8255.

The board heard from Sena Benson-Arb, clinical supervisor of the behavioral health program for the county’s Health and Human Services department.

Benson-Arb reflected on the mental health stresses the Echo Mountain Complex Fire has brought to many county residents, with that stress layered on top of the strain of COVID-19 restrictions. She said the official recognition helps to thwart stigma and encourage people to talk about suicide and ask friends and family for help.

“While we so desire for people who may be experiencing despair or hopelessness to reach out,” said Benson-Arb, “we also encourage friends, family and loved ones to be willing to have the courage and confidence to ask about suicidal thoughts with knowledge that this does not increase their loved one's vulnerability to suicide.

“I’m grateful we were able to set aside this month and honor the need, the awareness that’s needed, and the ability to talk about something that can be taboo and is certainly deadly.”

Sara Herd, Health Education Specialist, encouraged individuals to let others know that their lives are valuable and have meaning.

“While every death by suicide is a tragedy, it is something that can be preventable in most cases,” Herd said.

Herd said during the current fire crisis Behavioral Health Staff has been in the community with “sleeves rolled up and boots on the ground.”

The county has also partnered with local schools and DHS child welfare to train their staff on recognizing the early warning signs of suicide.

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