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Suicide prevention: We are in this together

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Sara Sedlacek, guest columnist

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control released new data showing a rise in suicide rates, especially among young girls. This troubling news led staff at The Crisis Center of Johnson County to redouble its outreach efforts and remind the public that there are resources for those in need.

One exciting new outreach effort is in partnership with the University of Iowa Health Care. September is National Suicide Prevention Month and each year The Crisis Center welcomes a speaker to talk about suicide prevention. This September, The Crisis Center has partnered with UI Health Care to bring Kevin Briggs to Iowa City.

Briggs was a member of the California Highway Patrol with an often dark, yet strangely rewarding job: He patrolled the southern end of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, a popular site for suicide attempts. Throughout his 23-year career, Briggs has negotiated several hundred people from suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge. As someone who suffers from depression himself, Briggs reminds those suffering depression or other mental illnesses that there is hope. To those who do not suffer from mental illness, Briggs simply asks that everyone reach out to someone who might be at risk for suicide. His mantras are “We are in this together” and “Listen to understand”.

Briggs has written a book, Guardian of the Golden Gate: Protecting the Line Between Hope and Despair, and has a TED Talk that has been viewed more than two million times. He has spoken all over the world about suicide prevention, crisis management, and leadership, and we are very honored to have him as The Crisis Center’s speaker for this year’s Suicide Prevention Month event.

The event will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at the University of Iowa Medical Education Research Facility, 375 Newton Rd. Dr. James Potash, Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa, will introduce Briggs and talk briefly about the state of mental health and suicide prevention locally. Following the event, will be a book signing. Briggs’s book will be available for purchase at the event. The event is open to the public and all are welcome. Please visit www.jccrisiscenter.org to learn more and register for this free event.

• Sara Sedlacek is the communications and development director for The Crisis Center of Johnson County.

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