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Conklin Will Lead Suicide Awareness Town Hall Sunday: #FlaglersuicideASK4HELP

| January 29, 2016

jackson pollock black and white

Jackson Pollock, from the Black and White series, 1951.

Note: the town hall is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31. To join at that time, click here. Nothing else is required. Until then, tweet your comments or questions to #FlaglersuicideASK4HELP.

In the wake of two recent and related suicides in Palm Coast, Flagler County School Board Chairman Colleen Conklin will host a virtual town hall on suicide awareness and prevention Sunday (Jan. 31) at 6 p.m. Barbara Coxwell, the mother of Dalton Coxwell, who took his life in 2013, will share her perspective.

Information about suicide and local resources that are available will be shared with participants.

Cora Ann Engel, 18, who’d been a student at Matanzas High School, hanged herself on Dec. 17. Her friend Lindsay Brockhaus, who was having a difficult time since Engel’s suicide, did likewise last week, on Jan. 19, prompting Conklin and Coxwell, who had been in contact for the past two years, to step up their awareness efforts.

“We recognize this is a larger community issue,” Conklin is quoted as saying in a school district release. “It’s my hope that we can reach out to the mental health professionals in the community and possibly beyond to assist with putting together a community­wide plan for tackling this issue.”

The town hall, she said, is for everyone. “There needs to be a shared understanding of suicide and suicide prevention,” Conklin said. “Young people need to know help is available and that anything they are dealing with is temporary and that suicide is something that can never be taken back. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

In 2014, there were 2,961 suicides and 1,139 homicides in Florida. Every year in Florida and in the U.S. there are twice as many suicides as homicides. Every loss is tragic, but the hardest to understand are youth – elementary, middle, high school and college aged students who attempt or die by suicide, the third leading cause of death for children, teens, and young adults ages 5-24 in Florida.

A coalition that includes the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Florida Chapters, the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Florida Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention, and the Florida Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council is working to help pass Senate Bill 884 and House Bill 907, the Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention.

The bill would require the Florida Department of Education to incorporate two hours of training in youth suicide awareness and prevention into existing requirements for continuing education or in-service training for faculty in elementary, middle and high schools. This may include materials currently being used by a school district if they meet criteria established by the Department of Education. It does not increase the required hours.

Conklin last led an online town hall in October 2013, when she was raising awareness about bullying when an instance of bullying led to the suicide of Lakeland middle school student Rebecca Sedwick.

Here’s how to participate in Sunday’s town hall, according to the district’s release:

Twitter Chat: ​Starting today (Friday) the district is encouraging youth, parents and community members to tweet their questions, thoughts or comments using the hashtag #FlaglerSuicideASK4HELP. The district will continue to gather feedback through Sunday and work to address any questions raised.

Town Hall:​ Sunday, Jan. 31, at 6 p.m. To participate in the virtual town hall, simply click on this link. click on the link below. There is no need to identify yourself. Please drop in for a listen and be sure to share with your friends.

On a computer, use any browser. There is nothing to download. On a phone or tablet, launch the app and enter meeting code: Flagleryouthsuicide.

Join the audio conference: (no need to phone in AND connect via internet). Dial 1.813.769.0500 and enter access code 790­230­192#, or connect via internet.

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