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November 17, 2011

ULM hosts suicide awareness event; enters agreement with Ouachita Parish schools

On Friday, Nov. 18, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, in recognition of National Survivors of Suicide Day, will host a series of events at Bayou Park, culminating with the signing of a collaborative agreement, a Reach Out Circle, and a balloon launch.

The community is encouraged to attend the event, which will take place next to Starbucks on the ULM campus from 9-11 a.m.

ULM's Jana Sutton, principal investigator of ULM Helping Educators and Learners Prevent Suicide (HELPS), is spearheading this event for the second consecutive year with Project Director Peggy Buffington, and Dr. Sandra Lemoine, dean of the College of Education and Human Development.

The education college hopes to educate the community about the people, places, and resources available to offer help and hope to persons who may be experiencing anxiety, depression, sadness, and other mental health issues including thoughts or behaviors related to suicide.

Faculty will also address the behavioral or verbal warning signs of mental instability and how to reach out to help.

ULM student organizations, academic departments, students, and community organizations will participate in the day’s events that will include music, food, freebies and prizes.

Students are especially encouraged to attend this informational event that will feature poetry readings, university and community speakers, and insight on preventive measures.

According to Buffington, ULM HELPS strives to build community relationships and assist those in need through suicide awareness.

Buffington has recently begun to build stronger community relationships including a recent partnership with the Ouachita Parish School System, which has recently suffered a rise in the number of suicides.

A new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ULM and the parish school system will develop a mutual public relations plan to maximize positive impact on targeted populations. The MOU, which will be formally signed during Friday's event, will also support functions that address mental health and suicide prevention.

Buffington is eager to embark on this partnership, as her primary focus will be to help educate teachers and administrators on how to pinpoint and address the potential signs of suicide.

“Our main goal with this partnership is to train the teachers, administrators and other adults that are in these young adult's lives so that they can help them before they reach the point where they are thinking about suicide,” concluded Buffington.

For more information contact Peggy Buffington at 318-342-1335 or

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