Sat Apr 25 09:11:12 PDT 2015
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Saving Our Teens
Blake Benberry

It starts with a conversation--one that may be uncomfortable, but one that can save a life. "Once you make that phone call we will work to provide the most appropriate level of care for you...get you and your family involved and help that person on the road to recovery,” says Susie Kingry, COO of SpectraCare Health Systems. SpectraCare Health Systems is a regional community-based organization that provides mental health services to Barbour, Dale, Geneva, Henry and Houston Counties. Their outreach extends to individuals across the lifespan so it is never too early. "Peers need to recognize that they can be the on the front line. They can help their friends. Silence of a friends’ suffering is not something that they want to keep," Kingry says. Early recognition is not always easy. However, if you have even the slightest inclination that something may be wrong with a friend, family member or associate, speaking up is the best policy. "You always want to look for extremes from an individual," says Ebony Crews, Director of Community Programs, SpectraCare Health Systems. Things as simple as a change in appetite, unusual sleep patterns, intensified anger and mood swings. Even social media can be a sign. "I think we need to start by understanding that depression is very real," says Kingry. It's a reality that disturbs communities far too often. In 2012 alone, 74 people ages 10 to 24 died by suicide in Alabama. "We don't always know how people are suffering. They carry that around. They may not share that. That's really the tragedy," Kingry says. But with more knowledge, understanding, and support to those who may be suffering, there can be fewer lives lost and more lives restored. "That's where we'd want our teachers, our community leaders, our coaches. Those are individuals who can stand in the gap," Crews says. "There's no shame in asking for help. So often we think we have to do it ourselves,” says Kingry. You do not have to do it alone. Help is only one call away.

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