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Teen Suicide Awareness and Prevention Panel is Presented In Seward

A special panel created to discuss Teen Suicide Awareness and Prevention and they  presented on Wednesday, October 19th at the Seward Civic Center’s Langworthy Auditorium at 7:00 pm.  The event was held to assist the area in suicide awareness and offer ideas to assist with prevention of suicide.  The event was co-sponsored by the Seward High FCCLA and The GFWC Seward Woman’s Club. The event was free and open to the public with a special invite geared to area teens.

The panel was hosted by Seward High Sophomores, Ayda Metschke and Molly Marroquin-SHS Freshmen and FCCLA members, Julia Hebenstreit JD Director of the Kim Foundation in Omaha, NE, Jon Metschke MA, LIMHP, LPC Mental Health Practitioner and Professional Counselor-of Metschke Counseling, and Anna Downing-Mother of the late Thomas Bosmenial, who lost his life to suicide.


The presentation opened with a welcome from Ayda Metschke and Molly Marroquin who thanked the audience for attending and introducing the panel.  She distributed cards to the audience, where they could write questions for the panel. 


The presentations began with Julia Hebenstreit speaking on the topic of “Suicide Prevention and Community Connectedness” in the form of a power point presentation.


“Suicide can touch anyone-but it is preventable,” she commented.  “Resources can help prevent suicides from happening and those that are more connected are less likely to act out and commit suicide.  Seward is a special place and even those very special places are not immune to the tragedy of suicides.”


The Kim’s Foundation research and studies over the decades first focused on the value of “connectedness” and how it affects suicides.  More recently she has studied the impact of suicide with families and the ways they deal with suicide.  Her goal is to bring that new knowledge achieved to share with others.

She commented on the issue of Mental Illness and stated that “Mental illness is as important as physical health, and it is ironical that we rarely ignore our physical health issues but when it comes to mental health, many are slow to react to solutions or get help.”  She noted the many Risk Factors, Suicide Warning Signs and Protective Factors on how to overcome thoughts of suicide.

The PowerPoint presented a series of statistics on suicide and mental illness and mental health.  It noted that one in four or 25% of the population suffers from some aspect of mental illness and only one third of those with depression seek help.  The most common mental illness is depression.   Depression is a form of mental illness issues and 90% of the people who commit suicide have depression.  The slides on the PowerPoint elaborated on the mental illness of Depression-defined it and shared examples of symptoms of depression.  


She spent time on How to Help and use the theme of ACT!  A-Acknowledge the changes or warning signs you have noticed in your friend-who you think is contemplating suicide. C-Show or tell that friend you and their families CARE very much for the student and T-Tell the right person and talk to the student that is thinking of suicide.  


She stressed “Protection Against Suicide” and elaborated on Suicide Protective Factors such as getting help for mental, physical and substance abuse, restricting access to lethal devices such as guns, building family support, and he encouraged establishing strong relationships with a doctor, pastor, teacher or counselor-connecting to the community in some manner.


Following Julia Hebenstreit’s presentation, Molly Marroquin introduced Anna Downing, the mother of the late Thomas Bosmeniel, who committed suicide four years ago as a college freshman at UNL.  She shared her story of losing Thomas and pointed out that she represented the family aspect on this panel and that “No parent should ever have to bury a child!  Her passion encouraged the students to consider that a suicide affects so many more then the person who dies and she spoke on the family pain as a result of suicide.” 


 She stressed the value of communication and to find someone to talk to if you are considering harming yourself.  She requested the students to consider the people left behind who are left to “pick up the pieces” following a suicide.  Mrs Downing asked everyone not to let their loved ones go through the suffering of a parent whose child committed suicide.


Counselor Jon Metschke of Metschke Counseling Service in Seward was then introduced to share his experiences with clients who request help.   He did stress that any child that he works with on any issue must have parental consent.  He did stress that he has worked with many in the Greater Seward Area that have considered suicide and he is concerned.  “Suicide does happen in Seward and there is a concern in Seward that “all ages” are dealing with the issue of suicide.”


Metschke felt that one possible  root of the problem is that many of his young clients have too much time on their hands and turn to social media to the point that it almost has become addictive.  Social media assists in developing low self-esteem and depression, as the viewer is not as perfect as the social media demonstrates by others.  He reminded the audience that with suicide “There are no takebacks-- Suicide is so very final!”  He pointed out there is “Help and Hope” by talking to a friend, family member, teacher, pastor or another loved one. 


Questions that were written on notecards followed that were addressed to the panel-and coordinated by Ayda Metschke and Molly Marroquin.  


Ayda Metschke and Molly Marroquin offered special thanks to the panelists – Julia Hebenstreit, Jon Metschke, Anna Downing and the local civic sponsors The SHS FCCLA and The GFWC Seward Woman’s Club. She also thanked the local GFWC Seward Woman’s Club for the evening’s refreshments.  Special thanks were extended to Erin Wiseman and the Seward Civic Center for the facility and the Seward County Independent for the articles promoting this panel presentation. Printed Suicide Awareness and Prevention materials were available in the lobby of the Civic Center compliments of Dr. David Miers and Bryan Health, the Four Corners Health and the Seward County Suicide Coalition and Boys Town.


After the conclusion, refreshments were sponsored by the GFWC Seward Woman’s Club and more conversation continued on the topic. 


Photo: L-R Evening Hosts-Ayda Metschke and Molly Marroquin with FCCLA, Jon Metschke of Metschke Counseling Service in Seward, Julia Hebenstreit, J.D. Director of the Kim Foundation in Omaha, and Anna Downing-mother of son Thomas Bosmeniel, who committed suicide four years ago as a teenager. The evening was sponsored by the SHS FCCLA and the GFWC Seward Woman’s Club.