Suicide Prevention Efforts Grow Across Oakland County, Training Available

Renaissance_Unity_Brown_TopSuicide blumz07Prevention Efforts Grow Across Oakland County, Training Available

(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 27, 2016)

Troy, MI – Southfield Police Officer Mark Zacks used to have trouble asking the question “Do you think about hurting yourself?” or “Have you thought about suicide?”

With 28 years on the force including 15 on the special entry and response team and being the lead negotiator for the hostage rescue team, it’s not that he was unaware of importance of mental health checks.

If anything it was fear of triggering someone emotionally and unintentionally causing harm that made it tough to ask.

UrbaneAd_04For Luke Good of Farmington SAFE, he sense something was wrong with his best friend, but also could not figure out how to ask the hard questions or where to turn for help.

“I lost my best friend to suicide.  I was afraid to reach out to her parents.  I didn’t know about resources.  I didn’t want to tell and have her be mad at me.”

When he started volunteering at Common Ground, Officer Zacks heard what he needed to hear.   “You’re not going to put that idea in their head if it’s not already there.  If it is they may open up and get help.”

Officer Zacks and Good were among the panelists at the Oakland County Suicide Prevention Forum on May 20 at the Troy Community Center banquet facility.  150 people attended and there was candlewickshoppeADblueinterest beyond the room’s capacity.  Among the attendees were educators, mental healthcare providers, law enforcement professionals and others who care about preventing death.  Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.  More people die of suicide than of homicide.  And among youth it is the third leading cause of death.

The taboo of discussing it can lead to someone hiding their problems rather than seeking help.

Rev. Laurel Dahill of St. Mary’s in the Hills Episcopal Church in Lake Orion said that an obituary for a young man who had graduated the year before had “said the young man died of a sudden illness,” she said.  “We need to say the FerndalePrideAD_resized_ad‘s’ word.  We need to talk about this.”

The Reverend is part of an initiative called “Take My Hand” to create suicide prevention awareness in Lake Orion, and she encouraged others to create groups to “creative a loving and supportive environment that keeps at least one person here,” she said.  “This is worth it.”

The forum was emceed by Miss Oakland County Kaitlyn Krizanic who is active in the Birmingham-Bloomfield Coalition.  Also on the panel were Kathleen Kovach and Tradina Taylor of Oakland County Community Mental Health who explained what the intake process is like for mental health services, and social worker Gigi Colombini who talked about what therapy is like.

Oakland County Youth Suicide Prevention is a partnership of Oakland County Department of Health and Human Services, Common Ground, Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority, Easter Seals, Training and Treatment Innovations, and Oakland Schools.Pledge_side_blue

There was also a performance by “The Anti-Stigma Team” that illustrated the barriers people face when they reach out for help.  In the skit characters asked for help and were dismissed to a waiting room if they lacked insurance or paperwork. There they were given labels like “weird” and “crazy” and “lazy.”  The performance gave a glimpse into the client’s perspective.

“You never know what storm will push you towards the doors of Community Mental Health,” said Malkia Maisha Newman of the Anti-Stigma Team.  The group is made of former clients and current clients who are in a place where they can spread the message to others about the importance of seeking counseling and support, and not judging those that do.

Oakland Schools is hosting a series of trainings for those who want to learn m1_two tonehow to ask the tough questions and be effective in helping when someone needs it.

SafeTalk Training – June 21 from 2pm to 5pm

Oakland Schools, 2111 Pontiac Lake Rd., Waterford 48328

Anyone over age 15 can attend, regardless of prior experience or training, to become a suicide-alert helper, learning to recognize warning signs for those needing help and take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources


Asist Training (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) – Aug 8-9 from 8am to 4:30 pmChazzano02

Oakland Schools, 2111 Pontiac Lake Rd., Waterford 48328

For anyone 16 and older who wants to be able to provide suicide first aid by learning intervention skills and working to build suicide prevention networks.


SafeTalk T4T – Aug 25-26 from 8am to 4:30pm

Oakland Schools, 2111 Pontiac Lake Rd., Waterford 48328

Training course for trainers of SafeTalk workshops.


The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Common Ground also hosts an online chat suicide prevention page at



About the author

Oakland County Times has written 14107 articles for Oakland County Times

Contact for any questions or story ideas! Please support this work by becoming an advertising sponsor or by chipping in through the PayPal button on the right side of the page.

Comments are closed.