News Article Details

School system to host suicide-prevention movie, "The Ripple Effect"

Moultrie Observer - 3/11/2020

Mar. 11--MOULTRIE, Ga. -- Colquitt County Schools will host a special screening of "The Ripple Effect" at Withers Auditorium on Monday, March 16, at 4 p.m. Free and open to the public, the screening is intended to draw attention to the issue of suicide and its aftereffects.

According to the film's website, "The Ripple Effect" chronicles the story of Kevin Hines, who at age 19 attempted to take his own life by jumping from San Francisco'sGolden Gate Bridge. Since then, Hines has tried to use his story to help others find recovery and has become one of the world's most prominent suicide prevention speakers and advocates. The film also features leading suicide prevention experts and shines light on people, like Hines, who are using personal experiences with suicide to help others find the hope they need to stay alive.

Irma Townsend, assistant superintendent for student services for Colquitt County Schools, said she hopes the movie provides an opportunity for people to speak up about the struggles they face.

"We are thankful to have the grant funds to put on an event like this for our community because we know so many of our neighbors deal with these issues every day and often go untreated," said Townsend. "The stigma attached to mental health issues makes it difficult for many to seek the help they need."

The movie talks frankly about suicide and can be difficult to watch in some places, said Tabathia Baldy, who wrote the mental health training grant and serves as the district's director of multi-tiered system of supports and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. "The movie has some intense scenes that could be triggering for people who struggle with mental health issues or thoughts of suicide," she said.

As such, therapists from the Georgia Pines Community Service Board will be on hand to support attendees as needed.

"When we first began talking about screening the movie, we knew we didn't want to show this if we couldn't have mental health professionals available," said Baldy.

Representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will also be on hand to provide information about resources available in the area.

Anyone interested in attending should reserve their spot by visiting and completing the online form.

The screening is only one of the grant's goals, said Baldy, who is one of five system employees who have trained over 300 of their coworkers in Youth Mental Health First Aid. While the vast majority are not mental health professionals, Baldy said school system employees often see students' symptoms before anyone else.

"We are not experts, but so many of the students who walk the halls of our schools struggle themselves or have family and friends who struggle," said Baldy. "We want to raise awareness of these issues in our community and teach our employees to recognize symptoms before a student reaches a crisis."

Baldy said community organizations that serve youth are also invited to participate in the Youth Mental Health First Aid training sessions. Interested parties should contact her at 229-890-6200 ext. 10072 or Allen Edwards at 229-890-6200 ext. 10074.

Across the globe, nearly one million people die annually by suicide. In the United States alone, there are one million suicide attempts in a given year and over 44,000 deaths by suicide, with the military being hit particularly hard. Research has shown that every death by suicide directly affects over 115 people.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273 TALK or text HELLO to 741741.


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