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Palm Coast Monday, Mar. 23, 2015 6 years ago

Palm Coast walk focuses on suicide prevention

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by: Shanna Fortier Associate Editor

Under the direction of Flagler County school psychologist Shoshanah Mercado, students in the Flagler Palm Coast High School girls group and Gay Straight Alliance helped to organize the first ever Out of the Darkness walk for suicide prevention held Saturday, March 21, at Town Center.

The walk was held in conjunction with the American Federation of Suicide Prevention and raised $1,200 for research and awareness.

“We have a lot of students in our community that, as the school psychologist, I see often that are struggling and the thought crosses their minds to not be here anymore,” Mercado said, adding that in December 2013, Matanzas High School student Dalton Coxwell committed suicide. “Knowing that it’s such a prevalent issue — not just in our country but in our very small community of Palm Coast — and knowing that it touched us personally so very recently, it just felt like this is a very needy cause that we need to address.”

The American Federation of Suicide Prevention reports that depression affects one in four people throughout their lifetime. In 2013 (the most recent year for which full data are available), 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. In that year, someone in the country died by suicide every 12.8 minutes.

Mercado said that the most important thing that students can know is that there are school psychologists and guidance counselors at every school. Every school also has teachers that are being trained to see warning signs.

“I just want all students to know that they have resources,” Mercado said. “I want families to know that their community is chalk full of mental health support and to contact Student Services if they have questions about any of that.”

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