December 7, 2022

Local agencies bring the topic of suicide to area students

At an assembly last week, Bad Ax wife Mary Greyerbiehl told the story of her son and former Bad Ax student Matt, who died by suicide in 2009. (Photo by Seth Stapleton)

HURON COUNTY – Along with Suicide Awareness Month September, two local organizations collaborated to raise awareness among students in two school districts in Huron County.

Last week, Senior Life Solutions at Harbor Beach Community Hospital, in partnership with the Huron County Suicide Prevention Coalition, presented a “Walk of Hope” to high school and junior high students at Bad Ax and Elkton- Pigeon Bay Port.

The aim was to give students hope in the face of an alarming trend of suicide among teenagers and young adults. Over the two days, more than 1,000 students heard the message.

According to a speaker at the Bad Ax event, Huron Behavioral Health Prevention Specialist Erica Jones, suicide is the second leading cause of death among this demographic.

During her presentation, Jones repeatedly reminded the students that they are not alone on their journey. Several times during her speech, she had them say out loud, “I am not alone.

Following a presentation made in conjunction with Suicide Awareness Month, students at Bad Ax Junior High School gathered for a

Following a presentation made in conjunction with Suicide Awareness Month, students at Bad Ax Junior High School gathered for a “Walk of Hope” around the school’s softball field. (Photo by Seth Stapleton)

And Jones would know full well what kind of devastating mental illness can cause a young mind. She shared with the students her own story of dealing with mental illness, which she says carried her into adulthood.

Jones told the public that she ultimately attempted suicide twice. She said she finally got over it, asking for help.

“Letting people know we’re not OK is the first step in dealing with our feelings,” Jones said.

“It’s okay to feel bad intentions from time to time, but if those feelings don’t go away or become so intense that you can’t handle them, it’s time to reach out.”

The presentations took place at Bad Ax schools on September 13 and at Laker schools on September 15. Both events ended with a “Walk of Hope” for junior high students from each school to raise awareness of the effort and remind those struggling that they are not alone in their lives. trials.

“I think everything went really well,” said Susan Rochefort, program director/registered nurse for Senior Life Solutions at Harbor Beach Community Hospital. “I spoke to some teachers, spoke to principals, and they also felt it was a good event.”

Rochefort is also a member of the Huron County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

In May, the hospital and the coalition partnered with schools in Ubly and Harbor Beach to bring attention to Mental Health Awareness Month. May was the first time for such a program, but plans are to continue efforts on an annual basis.

Rochefort said the idea came from a suggestion by fellow staff member, Cheryl Becigneul.

“I’m part of the coalition and the coalition is always looking to reach out, so this was just a great way to partner with the Huron County Suicide Prevention Coalition,” Rochefort said.

Also at the Bad Ax presentation was Mary Greyerbiehl. Greyerbiehl’s son, Matt, a former student of Bad Axe, died by suicide in August 2009.

She told students about the devastating experience and how it came out of nowhere. Matt was a popular kid in school, smart, driven, good at sports, and overall happy.

Greyerbiehl said 13 years have passed since the incident and she and her family are still trying to find a new normal.

“His death left a hole in our hearts that we know we can never fill,” she told the students.

If you or someone you know is in trouble or in crisis, contact Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. To contact us, call or text 988, or visit the Lifeline chat at 988lifeline.org.