WESTAMPTON – Several dozen Burlington County officials, workers and guests memorialized those who died by suicide last year during the County’s annual Suicide Prevention Walk.
Held at the Burlington County Human Services Building, the walk is intended to increase awareness about World Suicide Prevention Day and the resources available to assist those struggling with depression, addiction, loneliness and other issues and health conditions that can result in suicide.
Leaders also said the walk helps eliminate the stigma frequently associated with depression and other mental illnesses that can prevent people suffering from seeking assistance.
Between January 2019 and July this year, a total of 114 Burlington County lives were lost to suicide.
Director Felicia Hopson, the Board’s liaison to the Department of Human Services spoke on behalf of World Suicide Prevention Day.
“Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy and Burlington County stands united in doing whatever possible to help those struggling or in crisis to get the help needed,” said Hopson, “Even before the pandemic, we were concerned with the pressures individuals and families face, and for many, COVID-19 has compounded them, so letting people know that assistance is available becomes that much more important.”
Commissioner Deputy Director Dan O’Connell, who was among those who participated in the walk, spoke on the importance of mental health awareness.
“For far too long people have viewed depression, addiction and other mental health conditions as a sign of weakness or shame,” added O’Connell, “These are health conditions, and we need to treat them as such and let those who are struggling with them know they are not alone.”
Those who know someone who is believed to be in imminent danger, should call 911.Those struggling and seeking help, can call the New Jersey Suicide Prevention Hopeline at 1-855-654-6735 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
In addition to Thursday’s walk, the County Human Services Building also hosted a display of art from this year’s New Jersey Heroin and Opioid Art Exhibit featuring works highlighting abuse, addiction and recovery. The exhibit is sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, in conjunction with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
Also on display for the day were a collection of posters created by Burlington County youth for a contest organized by Prevention Plus.
The addiction art display can be viewed online at http://www.drugfreenj.org/HeroinArtExhibit/