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State to Plant Special ‘Living Matters’ Tree in Bicentennial Park to Honor Survivors of Suicide

Friday, September 20, 2013 | 10:59am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is joining with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Tennessee) and the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) to highlight Suicide Prevention Awareness Month with the planting of a special “Living Matters” tree in Bicentennial Park.

A ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. CDT on Monday, September 30, near the roundabout at 6th Avenue and Harrison Street, just north of Downtown Nashville. A commemorative plaque will be placed under the Willow Oak tree to honor all survivors of suicide. It will be inscribed: “LIVING MATTERS: Dedicated to Survivors of Suicide; Individuals, their families, and their friends.”

TDMHSAS Commissioner Douglas Varney, NAMI Tennessee Executive Director Jeff Fladen, and TSPN Executive Director Scott Ridgway will speak at the event. Members of the public are invited to attend.

“Suicide Prevention Awareness Month may last just 30 days, but that won’t stop the pain of suicide and attempted suicide,” says Commissioner Varney. “Suicide prevention is a year-round issue, and I urge all Tennesseans to do everything they can to help us end this tragedy.”

Some key facts about suicide in Tennessee:

  • Between 1981 and 2011, the number of Tennessee deaths attributed to suicide almost doubled.
  • Major depression is the psychiatric diagnosis most commonly associated with suicide.
  • About two-thirds of people who die by suicide are clinically depressed at the time of their deaths.
  • The risk of suicide in people with major depression is about 20 times that of the general population.
  • People who have a dependence on alcohol or drugs in addition to being depressed are at greater risk for suicide.

“Suicide remains a major threat to middle-aged adults in our state, and the ebb of the Middle East conflicts means more soldiers trying to reconcile their wartime experiences with civilian life,” says TSPN Executive Director Scott Ridgway. “In the months and years to come, we’ll be counting more than ever on our partnerships with TDMHSAS and NAMI Tennessee, as well the help of the general public, to prevent suicide and save lives.”

Anyone who is in a crisis or knows someone who is in a crisis, whether or not they are thinking about killing themselves, is urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). Callers will be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in their area 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential and free.

Also, the TDMHSAS has a toll-free statewide phone number for mental health and substance use crisis services. The number, 855-CRISIS-1 (855-274-7471), will route callers to their local crisis provider.

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