Community Suicide Awareness Training planned for Tuesday evening | CraigDailyPress.com

Community Suicide Awareness Training planned for Tuesday evening

Session slated for 6 p.m. at the Clarion Inn & Suites

Michael Neary

— When Meghan Francone leads a Community Suicide Awareness Training session on Tuesday she hopes — and expects — to reach a wide-ranging group of people.

"We are expecting a large number of individuals," she said, noting that the training will be presented with a range of ages in mind.

Moffat County United Way and Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide are partnering to offer a free Community Suicide Awareness Training seminar from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31 at the Clarion Inn & Suites in Craig, located at 300 S. Highway 13.

Francone is the executive director of REPS, a suicide awareness agency that covers Moffat and Routt counties.

The training comes just weeks after the occurrence of suicide in Moffat County. But Amanda Arnold, executive director of the Moffat County United Way, said such training is important to the community at any time.

“I think, at any time, this training is very informative for the community,” Arnold said. “It's very much like first aid. It's having the tools in your pocket if something does happen so you know how to respond and help.”

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Arnold said that an interpreter from the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will be present to communicate with people in Spanish.

The session follows the model of the QPR Institute: Question, Persuade, Refer. The institute's website compares suicide-prevention training to CPR training: "Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives."

Francone noted that counselors would be present for support — and she added that while she expects to see people in a variety of situations, she anticipates that many people will have been touched by suicide in some way.

"I would love to be reaching groups of individuals who have not yet had experience with suicide," she said. "Unfortunately in our community, and across our nation, this is a topic that (many of us) have had some experience with."

Francone acknowledged that the whole topic can be excruciatingly hard to broach — as can the means by which many people have used to commit suicide. The most recent statistics, she said, indicate that 77 percent of the suicide deaths in Moffat County occur with firearms.

Her efforts to raise awareness about guns and suicide, Francone said, are "not anti-gun." She noted the necessity of keeping guns locked and unavailable to people who are vulnerable.

"If we are going to own firearms, we have to be responsible gun owners," said Francone, an NRA member.

Francone lost her brother-in-law to suicide when a firearm was not locked up, she said.

As for Tuesday's awareness training, Francone said she welcomed anyone interested in preventing suicide, regardless of how they may have been touched by it in the past.

"This is our community," she said. "We will do our best to educate anybody who wants to come."

People seeking more information can contact Francone at 970-846-8182 or Amanda Arnold, executive director of the Moffat County United Way, at 970-824-6222.

Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.