Suicide prevention to be fair topic

National and Durango agencies to participate at Three Springs event

National as well as local providers of mental-health services are scheduled to talk with professionals and the public about suicide prevention and available resources Saturday at Three Springs Plaza.

The event, called Fresh Check Day, is sponsored by the Jordan Matthew Porco Memorial Foundation. The foundation was started by the parents of a 18-year-old St. Michael’s College (Vt.) student who died by suicide in February 2011.

“They had a website up and running within a month,” said Nancy Brockman, the principal of Durango-based Chimera Communications and a family friend. “Marisa and Ernest Porco want to make a difference.”

Brockman is a member of the foundation board.

The Porcos did a lot of research into mental health and suicide after their son’s death, Brockman said. The first Fresh Check Day, held in April at East Connecticut State College, was attended by more than 1,000 people who visited booths staffed by organizations in the mental-health field.

Marisa Porco will attend Fresh Check Day at Three Springs.

“The mission of Fresh Check Day is to promote positive mental health, educate people about the signs and symptoms of mental-health disorders and open channels to remove the stigma surrounding mental health,” Brockman said. “The mission is to encourage community members to reach out for help when needed – with particular emphasis on the younger generation.”

Brockman offers a list of did-you-know facts:

Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds.

One in 10 college students contemplates suicide.

Native Americans, and homosexual, bisexual and transgendered young people are at greater risk.

Outside of combat, more members of the American military die by suicide than any other cause.

The No. 1 risk for suicide is undiagnosed, untreated or poorly managed mental illness.

The most effective way to prevent suicide is to know the warning signs, take them seriously and respond appropriately.

Among the booths at the fair will be: Axis Health Systems, Fort Lewis College counseling and wellness center, Second Wind Fund, Horse Empower (equestrian therapy) and the Women’s Resource Center.

National programs include the Jed Foundation’s Love is Louder MTV program and the Trevor Project.

First Check Day at Three Springs Plaza is scheduled from noon to 5 p.m.

As added incentives, there will be free trolley service from the Durango Transit Center and the appearance of folk singer Meg Hutchinson, who is bipolar, and the band TBA (formerly Cosmic Accident).

September is Suicide Prevention Month.

daler@durangoherald.com