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County to host inaugural suicide summit

Rash of deaths in community spurs event

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — There have been more than 20 suicides in Forsyth County since January.

That is one reason a group of community members, including Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, created the inaugural Forsyth County Suicide Summit. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 20 at the Forsyth Conference Center, 3410 Ronald Reagan Blvd.

“We want people to walk away with hope,” Mills said. “It doesn’t have to be about despair. We want to offer more coping skills and be a community about love. We’ve been named the healthiest county the past few years, but wellness goes beyond what you see on the outside.”

Similar to the drug summits that have been held over the past few years, this event will feature mental health professionals, family members of those who’ve committed suicide and ways for anyone to get help.

The idea came to Mills, who is on the United Way Board of Directors, while attending a meeting and hearing from the nonprofit’s mental health committee.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions about mental health in the county,” Mills said. “It’s a big issue we’re facing. I started looking at the numbers and talking to deputies and realized how big of an issue we have here.”

Mills attended Gwinnett County’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Summit and toyed with the idea of also combining the two topics.

“I didn’t think it would do either justice,” Mills said. “They are so much bigger issues than could be covered together. It wouldn’t be fair to either.”

Forsyth County’s total of 22 suicides since January, she said, is high compared to surrounding counties.

“It’s disturbing,” Mills said. “It’s across the gamut and not in just one [type of people]. It’s not all attributed to drugs. Earlier this year, there were two high schoolers who didn’t know each other that did it the same day.”

She spoke with family members who were left behind and said they have a lot of stigma associated with them.

“It needs to be a subject that isn’t taboo,” Mills said. “It needs to be talked about, addressed and brought out, just like addiction. Hopefully if you raise awareness, you can create prevention. That’s what we hope to do.”

For more information on the event, visit http://bit.ly/2wKTRPU.


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