WARNING: This story contains information about suicide. If you or a loved one is thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1-800-273-8255. The NSPL provides 24-hour, free support to those in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources for you or loved ones.
The City of Franklin and the Find Hope Franklin Initiative held a virtual suicide prevention event on Thursday where community members who have been touched by suicide shared their experiences in the hopes of helping others who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.
The half hour pre-recorded video premiered on the city’s social media pages at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10, which is recognized as World Suicide Prevention Day.
According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention, each year suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages, and is responsible for over 800,000 deaths annually.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Vital Statistics Reports, suicide it the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with 47,173 suicides reported in the US in 2017.
The program was hosted by Franklin Mayor Ken Moore and Franklin Police Chief Deb Faulkner and featured personal stories from three community members and information from local professionals on seeking help.
The video featured personal stories of struggle and perseverance from attempted suicide survivors and community members Jimmy Boehm and Williamson County Schools student Cole Gershkovich, as well as Steve Hinsley, whose son James committed suicide in 2018.
“When it comes to people who do take their own lives, these things don’t happen quickly and there are lots of signs if you just know what to look for,” Gershkovich said. “So now that’s something that I’m passionate about is finding those signs because I know that I gave off many that many people didn’t notice just because they didn’t know what to look for.”
"You have to look at prevention not just in the early warning signs but in that impulsive moment,” Hinsley said. “So things like a barricade on a bridge, things like suicide prevention pamphlets in a gun shop, anything to get them to think twice.”
The video concluded with local healthcare professionals including Refuge Center for Counseling Director Amy Alexander, Mercy Community Health Care CEO Cindy Siler, Mental Health America of the Midsouth President and CEO Tom Starling and Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System Director Sej West.
"These stories of self-harm and suicide are truly happening too often in our community and our goal today is to educate our community to see the warning signs of suicide, to know how to help and how to access the professional support that is needed," Alexander said.
Presenters also advised those in need of mental or emotional support to go to findhopefranklin.com to find a variety of local resources.
"There is hope and help available,” Faulkner said. “No one should have to suffer alone.”
The full program can be found below.