SHARON, Pa. — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 47,000 Americans died by suicide in 2017, and an estimated 1.4 million Americans attempted suicide, rates that have risen by 30% since the year 2000.
Because of these soaring numbers, and in recognition of September being National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Penn State Shenango will address suicide prevention and awareness at its sixth annual Stamp Out Stigma event on Wednesday, Sept. 18. The event, co-sponsored by the Buhl Regional Health Foundation, is designed to bring important information and awareness, as well as personal stories about the stigma associated with mental health and the possibility of recovery, to the forefront of the community.
This year’s Stamp Out Stigma keynote speaker is Dese’Rae Stage, founder of the suicide prevention website LiveThroughThis.org. Stage will speak at the Shenango campus during two programs.
In the first program, she will discuss the impact that the Live Through This website has had in preventing suicide and reducing stigma at an afternoon Stamp Out Stigma program that will begin at 12:15 p.m. in the campus’ Great Hall, located in Sharon Hall on Penn Avenue. During the evening program, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium, Stage will share her personal story as a survivor of a suicide attempt and how that experience has led to her work as an activist in suicide prevention. Both events are free and open to the public. No registration is required.
Stage is a Philadelphia-based artist and writer who established LiveThroughThis.org in 2010 as a collection of photographic portraits and true stories of suicide attempt survivors across the United States. As stated on the website, the goal of Live Through This is to “change public attitudes about suicide by elevating and amplifying survivors’ voices.”
Through sharing raw, honest stories of survival paired with portraits that put faces and names to the statistics, Stage aims to “reduce prejudice and discrimination against attempt survivors, to provide comfort to those experiencing suicidality by letting them know that they’re not alone and tomorrow is possible, to give insight for those who have trouble understanding suicidality, and to provide catharsis to those who have lost a loved one.”