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Advocates share the importance of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

“It just really hurt to realize suicide is preventable and that we didn’t prevent the suicide of our loved one.”
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 7:40 PM EDT
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NORTH CENTRAL, W.Va (WDTV) - September marks Suicide Prevention Month, and as thousands of lives are lost each year, many are saved through the help from advocates and programs.

More than 47,500 suicides were reported across the U.S. in 2019, 319 of those were in West Virginia.

A number that both Michelle Toman and Barri Faucett said is too large as they work to raise awareness of suicide prevention.

“We as a society need to do better, knowing when to lean in or when to reach in and check in on those people,” Toman, a state and national suicide prevention mental health advocate said. “It’s important to acknowledge that if you think someone is struggling, they probably are.”

Both Toman and Faucett are co-founders of the suicide prevention campaign “You Matter, I Matter,” and they each have a role in many other suicide awareness organizations that caters to all of West Virginia.

With their involvement, their one goal is to save lives.

“It’s okay not to be okay, it’s not okay to stay there,” Faucett, who is also the director of Prevent Suicide WV said.

For Toman, this goal is a little more personal. Back in 1994, her younger brother, who was a freshman in college, took his life. As a result, Toman started Brother Up, for suicide survivors.

“That’s the shining light in my little brother’s story, is that I didn’t save my person, and I’ve lost multiple family members to suicide, but as a result of my advocacy and my willingness to be able to educate other people through the trainings and the work that we partnered and do together, we’ve been able to save so many others and to be able to change so many other families’ stories so they aren’t like mine,” she said.

Both women say anyone can change someone’s story through life and text lines or trusted websites like Prevent Suicide WV or the CDC.

Anyone thinking about suicide can call 800-273-8255, the lifeline number or text HOME to 741741.
Anyone thinking about suicide can call 800-273-8255, the lifeline number or text HOME to 741741.(Suicide Prevention WV)

“Suicide is preventable, and you don’t have to have all the answers or know what to do and be able to fix their life circumstances or their mental health condition, but there are things that we can do to help individuals that are having suicidal thoughts to keep them safe,” Toman said.

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