MUNISING — Suicide is a public health issue that is plaguing communities across the nation. Local organizations are collaborating to bring preventative measures through education to youth along with adults in the U.P.

In a recent meeting, community organizations came together to discuss how they can work to create programs to help prevent suicide in their community. When addressing the subject, shedding light on the matter rather than ignoring it, is vital.

“Not that you ever want to normalize suicide, but you want to be able to have a normal discussion around it. Keeping it taboo is not helpful,” said Communities that Care Coordinator for Alger County, Mary Jo’Hollaran-Torongo.

Organizations including local health departments, the U.P. Suicide Coalition, Michigan State Police, and various other groups are working on a collaborative effort to promote a safe and healthy environment for people of all ages. “We spread the wealth and then that way, we’re able to cover everything through that collaboration,” said Jo’Hollaran-Torongo.

While discussing future plans of action, past beneficial programs were also reviewed. These programs include training on what to look for in a suicidal individual, along with proper methods for coping with anger and anxiety. “We’ve also had mental health first aid training and people who have participated in the assist training, we have done those types of programs,” said Jo’Hollaran-Torongo.

The goal behind the Alger County Community Collaborative Communities that Care is to identify risk factors that are prevalent in the community and implement effective programs that address what the community needs. “Education for this is key through any avenues we can do, whether we train people to be a trainer in our community or continue to do programming open to our community, we are going to keep doing that,” said District Health Department Educator, Bobbi Ayotte.

The Mother of Tysen Benz, the 11-year old boy who committed suicide as a result of a social media prank wants to get as much awareness and preventative measures taken as possible, especially in school settings. Katrina Goss told ABC 10 in a statement: “I strongly feel that suicide prevention/awareness needs to be taught in every school. Having assemblies, group or individual counseling, rallies, self esteem boosting assemblies which implement the dangers of social media bullying/pranking/harassment. I will continue to fight for my son, Tysens honor and the cause,” said Mother of Tysen Benz, Katrina Goss.

If you have any further questions regarding this public health issue, it is urged to contact the National Lifeline number at the number on your screen or Dial Help, which has calling, texting, or chatting capability 24/7.