Poster con­test sends mes­sage of hope

Abing­ton stu­dent among teens rec­og­nized for sui­cide pre­ven­tion mes­sage in MCSPTF ef­fort

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - FRONT PAGE - By Bob Keeler [email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @by­bob­keeler on Twit­ter

NOR­RIS­TOWN >> Sui­cide is pre­ventable.

There is help. There is hope. Those were some of the mes­sages in the first “You Mat­ter” poster art con­test open to Mont­gomery County el­e­men­tary, mid­dle and high school stu­dents.

“We had about 46 sub­mis­sions, all of which were fan­tas­tic and very hard to select,” Erin Hewitt, co-chair of the Mont­gomery County Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Task Force, said as the three con­test win­ners were pre­sented at the Dec. 13 Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing.

“The goal of our con­test was to en­cour­age emo­tional well-be­ing by pro­mot­ing the con­cept of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, hope, com­mu­nity and friend­ship in an ef­fort to pre­vent sui­cide,” said Fran­co­nia res­i­dent Patti Dille, a task force mem­ber and sui­cide loss sur­vivor, “so we want to en­cour­age our youth to talk about their feel­ings and reach out and get help when they are strug­gling. It’s im­por­tant for ev­ery youth in Mont­gomery County.”

Task force mem­ber El­lyn Strauss in­tro­duced con­test win­ners Hal­lie Ahrens, a 12th-grader at Abing­ton Se­nior High School; Rowan Blanke­meyer, a ninth­grader at Up­per Dublin High School; and Keira Moyer, an eighth-grader at Soud­er­ton Area School Dis­trict’s In­dian Crest Mid­dle School.

Ahrens’ first-place win­ning poster in­cluded the mes­sage that, “The stars come out when the sun sets; don’t lose hope.”

While it may ap­pear over­stated, peo­ple should re­al­ize how im­por­tant hope is, Ahrens said.

“If you have hope, any­thing’s pos­si­ble for the fu­ture,” she said.

Blanke­meyer said she chose to in­clude a hot air bal­loon in her sec­ond-place win­ning poster be­cause, “It rep­re­sents hope to me.”

The poster also in­cluded a semi­colon as a sym­bol rep­re­sent­ing men­tal health aware­ness, she said.

“Within the be­lief that sui-

cide is gen­er­ally pre­ventable,

the mis­sion of Project Semi­colon is to help re­duce the in­ci­dents of sui­cide in the world through con­nected com­mu­nity and greater ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion

and re­sources. We be­lieve that sui­cide pre­ven­tion is the col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity of each and ev­ery per­son on the planet,” ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion on the pro­ject­semi­colon.com web­site.

Moyer said her third­place win­ning poster, which in­cluded “Don’t doubt who you are” and “You are your own kind of beau­ti­ful” mes­sages, was an at­tempt to in­spire oth­ers.

In­for­ma­tion on places to get help was in­cluded along with all three posters.

“These projects that en­gage all mem­bers of our com­mu­nity go a long way to help re­duc­ing the stigma around this par­tic­u­lar chal­lenge, and I can’t think of any­thing more im­por­tant than to mak­ing sure that young adults re­ally un­der­stand this for the med­i­cal con­di­tion that it is, how to get help and that it’s OK to talk about it and it’s OK to ask for help,” com­mis­sion­ers Chair Dr. Va­lerie Arkoosh said.

Com­mis­sioner Ken Lawrence said they were all “won­der­ful posters” and thanked both the stu­dents and the task force for their ef­forts.

“I’m so proud that we have the abil­ity to con­grat­u­late you on your artis­tic abil­i­ties and your pas­sion to serve your fel­low neigh­bors in the com­mu­ni­ties that you live in with such an im­por­tant is­sue to help put a spot­light on that,” Com­mis­sioner Joe Gale told the stu­dents.

“In Mont­gomery County, we lose ap­prox­i­mately 100 of our loved ones, friends, neigh­bors and co­work­ers each year to sui­cide. The Task Force’s pur­pose is to pro­mote un­der­stand­ing that sui­cide is a pre­ventable com­mu­nity health prob­lem in our county,” Dille wrote in an email.

Brooke Glen Be­hav­ioral Hospi­tal part­nered with the Mont­gomery County Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Task Force in the poster con­test, she said.

The fol­low­ing sup­port hot­lines are avail­able: Mont­gomery County Mo­bile Cri­sis: 1-855-6344673; The Na­tional Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Life­line: 1-800-273-8255; The Na­tional Cri­sis Text Line: text “Help” to 741741; Mont­gomery County Teen Talk Line: call 866-825-5856 or text 215-703-8411.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO — PATTI DILLE

Hal­lie Ahrens, the Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers and mem­bers of the Mont­gomery County Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Task Force stand with an en­larged copy of her poster in the “You Mat­ter” poster con­test.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO — PATTI DILLE

Keira Moyer, the Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers and mem­bers of the Mont­gomery County Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Task Force stand with an en­larged copy of Moyer’s poster in the “You Mat­ter” poster con­test.

SUB­MIT­TED IM­AGE

Up­per Dublin High School ninth-grader Rowan Blanke­meyer’s en­try was the sec­ond-place win­ner in the Mont­gomery County Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Task Force and Brooke Glen Be­hav­ioral Hospi­tal’s poster con­test.

SUB­MIT­TED IM­AGE

Abing­ton Se­nior High School 12th-grader Hal­lie Ahrens’s en­try was the first-place win­ner in the Mont­gomery County Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Task Force and Brooke Glen Be­hav­ioral Hospi­tal’s “You Mat­ter” poster con­test.

SUB­MIT­TED IM­AGE

In­dian Crest Mid­dle School eighth-grader Keira Moyer’s en­try was the third-place win­ner in the Mont­gomery County Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Task Force and Brooke Glen Be­hav­ioral Hospi­tal poster con­test.

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