Lake Norman & Mooresville

Teen’s suicide prompts community conversation Aug. 6

There was a time when suicide was a taboo topic for public conversation.

Community leaders and officials with Carolinas Healthcare System want to make sure that’s not the case after a 16-year-old girl from Davidson committed suicide June 23.

“Research tells us that ‘postvention’ is prevention,” said Lynn Hennighausen, director of Davidson LifeLine, a nonprofit organization committed to preventing suicide and eliminating the stigma attached to it.

“Whenever there is a tragedy of suicide, there is profound grief for many. As a result of this grief, risk for suicide (for those who are grieving), depression, substance use and other mental health issues is higher in the weeks and months after.”

To address those risks, Davidson LifeLine will host a community conversation on dealing with grief Aug. 6.

Psychiatrist Brad Reddick will open the discussion by talking to all participants about recognizing, addressing and expressing grief, and how and where to find help. Participants will then split into small groups of youths and adults for discussions led by behavioral health professionals from Carolinas Healthcare and counselors from local middle and high schools.

Davidson LifeLine was created in 2012 after Davidson experienced five suicides and 12 attempts. The organization now leads training for adults and youths on how to recognize and respond to clues that someone is experiencing behavioral health issues. Davidson LifeLine also organizes events like the upcoming community conversation in response to tragedies.

“Davidson LifeLine knows the importance of creating space for hard conversation,” said Hennighausen. “We are dedicated to making sure mental health experts and professionals guide these conversations in ways that offer support, compassion and tools for healing.”

The effort comes as no surprise to John Santopietro, chief clinical officer for behavioral health for Carolinas Healthcare System.

“This event is another example of Davidson’s remarkable ability to come together as a community to listen, to understand and to heal,” said Santopietro.

Davidson and Carolinas Healthcare have formed a close bond. The town approached Carolinas Healthcare about building its new in-patient behavioral health hospital in Davidson after Huntersville rejected the system’s plans for a facility there. The $36 million, 66-bed facility on Davidson-Concord Road opened in 2013.

John Deem is a freelance writer: john.deem@outlook.com.

Want to go?

Davidson LifeLine will host a community conversation on dealing with grief at 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Davidson College Presbyterian Church Congregation House, 218 Concord Road. More information on the community event and Davidson LifeLine are at davidsonlifeline.org.

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