Suicide Is The Second-Leading Cause of Death in Teens; Bridgeport is Actively Trying To Change That

By Trina Runner on December 03, 2017 via

Depression comes in many forms, often accompanied by anxiety, irritability, indecisiveness, and stress.  For some, it can lead to self-harm, sleep disorders, substance abuse or even suicide.  Statistically, a young person attempts suicide every fifteen seconds in America, making it among the main causes of death for teens.
Bridgeport High School, Bridgeport Middle School and the Harrison County community has decided to start the often uncomfortable conversation about depression and suicide, starting with educating students and parents and, eventually, creating a suicide prevention program for our area.
On November 14, Michelle Toman visited Bridgeport High School.  About 50 individuals, aged fifteen to adult, gathered to be trained in recognizing the symptoms of depression and suicide. 
“Unfortunately, nearly everyone has a connection to suicide in one way or another,” said Toman, who volunteers with the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.  Toman has made it her life’s mission to educate and advocate for suicide prevention after her brother, Jamie, died by suicide over two decades ago.
“I know what it is like to lose someone close to you and to live with that pain,” Toman said.  “My mission is to help people recognize the symptoms, utilize resources and prevent suicides.  Right now, suicide is the second leading cause of death in those aged 10-24.  With programs like this, we can reduce that number significantly.”
Jamie’s Law was named after Toman’s brother and requires that suicide prevention education is presented annually at every middle school and high school in West Virginia.  On November 28, Bridgeport High School and Bridgeport Middle School students attended an assembly that met that requirement for our area. 
Author and speaker Dr. Gary E. Nelson spoke with the students about how families can cope with depression, dispelling many of the misconceptions about the disease.  He shared his personal story of how depression and anxiety affected his own son and reviewed the ways depression can manifest in teen’s lives.
“Many times, depression will come out as anger or loss of interest in things that the person once enjoyed,” said Nelson.  “If we can let them know they are not alone and direct them to the available resources, we can intervene before they turn to more destructive means.”
Toman plans to return to Bridgeport in February to initiate two programs in our area.  The Yellow Ribbon program is designed for teens to work with their peers, offering support, resources and compassion while recognizing symptoms and referring when necessary.  Safe Talk will be for interested community members who would like to be trained to intervene and direct those in need. 
“The goal is to create a school and community that offers support and resources to those experiencing suicidal tendencies or suffering from mental health issues,” said Toman.  “There are specialized programs for those in the military, teen parents, and other specific groups if we see the interest level rise in the Bridgeport community.”
The Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 and more information regarding the upcoming training sessions is available by emailing  Students must be fifteen years old to participate and adults will need to register for the training.

Connect Bridgeport
© 2018