HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Leaders in the community are speaking out to kick off National Suicide Prevention week. The month of September marks Suicide Awareness month and D.R.E.A.M. of Hattiesburg has programs that are targeted for different age groups.
According to its website, D.R.E.A.M. of Hattiesburg stands for Drug-free Resources for Education and Alternatives in Mississippi. The organization educates communities by "using resources that promote a drug-free lifestyle as well as providing alternatives that promote a positive, healthy way of life." It also provides resources and information for suicide prevention.
"One person takes their own life every 12.8 minutes, amounting to nearly 40,000 suicide deaths per year, according to the CDC," Mayor Johnny DuPree said at a proclamation Tuesday at city hall. "It is vital to recognize the signs of depression and hopelessness that lead people to commit suicide. (These) signs include changes in behavior such as sleeping or eating patterns, as well as isolation from others."
Linda Vasquez, executive director of D.R.E.A.M. of Hattiesburg, also weighed in on warning signs.
"They sometimes get overwhelmed and can be feeling hopeless and helpless with some of the responsibilities that they have to do," she said. "So I think it's real important that we target that age group because they also may have friends or even family that they could provide assistance to. We all are role models in our own way and it doesn't matter if you're a youth or if you are 110, we all have an opportunity to help one another."
For more information about D.R.E.A.M. of Hattiesburg, click here.