VFW post hoping to prevent suicide

Ed Frandle, left, VFW suicide awareness project leader, and Shawn Tallant, VFW Post 12135 commander, discuss a free suicide awareness and prevention program offered Sept. 9 at the Community Church at Tellico Village.

A free program in Tellico Village will teach the warning signs of suicide and provide information about help available locally.

The two-hour program, organized by 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr. VFW Post 12135, is set for 4-6 p.m. Sept. 9 in the Community Church at Tellico Village fellowship hall.

“As we often see, suicide is a serious public health problem that can have long-last effects on individuals, families and communities,” according to the VFW event announcement. “The good news is that suicide is preventable.”

People can help prevent suicide if trained to detect warning signs and learn effective techniques to intervene, according to the VFW.

The VFW is partnering with the Knoxville Veterans Affairs Outreach Program, Loudon County Veterans Service Office, Tellico Lake American Legion Post 256, Tellico Village Nursing Group, Tellico Village Volunteer Fire Department, other local first responders, survivors of suicide loss and a Stephen Ministry support group.

Shawn Tallant, local post commander, said veterans commit suicide at double the rate of the general population, and the rate of suicide is higher among younger veterans 18 to 34 years old.

But the program is open to everyone, not just veterans.

“It’s a subject people don’t always want to talk about,” Tallant said. “Let’s talk about it. Let’s make ourselves part of the solution. ... If we can help one person at the end of this trail, it was worth two hours.”

Ed Frandle, VFW suicide awareness project leader, said organizers wanted to do something different this year for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September.

Those who attend the training program can learn about the cues to listen or watch for, and they will know where to get help for someone who might be suicidal.

“Suicide has always had a stigma about it,” Frandle said.

Many people have had experience because they have lost a family member or friend to suicide, he said.

“It isn’t like it’s a new issue,” Frandle said. “It’s a national health issue.”

Tallant said the program will include open dialogue, educational materials and a question and answer segment.

One of the speakers, Ron Hutson, Loudon County Veterans Service Office director, said he has been asked to speak 10-15 minutes and share his expertise teaching about suicide prevention.

Hutson said he will provide information about suicide prevention and the resources that are available to those who are suicidal, and he will talk about both veterans and non-veterans.

For more information on the upcoming program, email saprogram@tellicovillagevfw post.org.