Press Release: Local Groups Form Community Coalition for Suicide Prevention

Photo by Charline Wyman Photography
Pictured from L to R:
Jamie Dorr, Bath Youth Meetinghouse & Skatepark
Mike Field, Bath Police Department
Chuck Reese, Bath Police Department
Robin Murray, YoungLife
Mary Hanley, New Hope for Women
Deb Hagler, MD, Mid Coast Hospital
Claudia Hatch, Sweetser
Tom Kilver, Mid Coast Hospital
Jim Peavey, United Way of Mid Coast Maine
Annmarie Harkins, Bath Area Family Y
Stacy Manter, Suicide Survivor & American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Cherlyan Camire, Maine Behavioral Health
Aurora Hodgkins, Big Brothers Big Sisters
Patrick Manuel, RSU 1
Ruth Francis, YoungLife
Joel Merry, Sagadahoc Sheriff’s Department
Fotini Eberhard, Mid Coast – Parkview Health
Davie Ouelette, North Woolwich Methodist Church
Simone Flaming, North Woolwich Methodist Church
Larry Bartlett, Maine Youth Forum
Mary Melquist, Community Member
Greg Marley, NAMI Maine
Karen Yurek, Morse High School Student
Andy Sokoloff, CHANS/Mid Coast – Parkview Health
Steve Balboni, Bath Parks & Recreation Department

Bath, ME – On Sunday, April 30th, at 4:00 pm, the Midcoast Community Alliance will hold its first public event, “A Call to Action for Suicide Prevention,” in the gymnasium at the Bath Parks & Recreation Department (4 Sheridan Road, Bath). Hosted by Bath Police Chief Mike Field, the event focuses on public health issues facing Sagadahoc and Eastern Cumberland County and features a panel of speakers from NAMI Maine (National Alliance for Mental Illness). Light Refreshments will be provided by Solo Bistro, Run with Soup, and Mae’s Café.

Over the past five years, greater Sagadahoc County has lost more than 20 loved ones to suicide. Community members are struggling with addiction and its deadly effects. According to the 2015 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, 1 in 5 of high school students in Sagadahoc County have considered suicide in the past year. Only 49% of students reported feeling like they matter to people in their community.

In July 2016 the Bath Youth Meetinghouse & Skatepark organized a meeting with the Bath Parks & Recreation Department, Bath Area Family YMCA, Morse High School guidance department and NAMI Maine to discuss youth suicide in the greater Bath/Brunswick area. Since then, additional members from RSU 1, MSAD 75, the Bath Police Department, Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department, Mid Coast Hospital, United Way of Mid Coast Maine, Sweetser and more have joined the effort. The group also includes suicide survivors, faith organizations, community members and high school students. In total, the Midcoast Community Alliance is comprised of over 25 organizations and nearly 50 members.

Jamie Dorr, volunteer for the Bath Youth Meetinghouse & Skatepark and lead organizer of the Midcoast Community Alliance says the community response has been very positive. “This is something that affects all of us and will take all of us working together to find solutions. Our community leaders acted quickly to get involved and have provided strong support in our mission,” Dorr said.

The Midcoast Community Alliance is dedicated to a vision of a suicide free community. Its mission is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction to encourage people to seek help. The alliance meets at 1pm on the last Tuesday of every month at the Bath Parks & Recreation Department, to discuss the complex issues that lead people to consider suicide. Members recognize that youth suicide cannot be addressed without also examining adult suicide and that addiction, among other things, is oftentimes closely related.

The Midcoast Community Alliance believes that by working together the community can make a positive difference. They invite all residents of Sagadahoc County, Harpswell, Brunswick, and Wiscasset to join the conversation.

“RSU 1 is very supportive and grateful for the work the Midcoast Community Alliance is doing for our youth and communities,” said Patrick Manuel, RSU 1 Superintendent of Schools. “It is wonderful to have such a committed group that is focused on promoting mental health awareness.”