Parent Forum On Adolescent Depression And Suicide

October 25, 2011 Updated Oct 25, 2011 at 11:24 PM EDT

By Lou Chilelli

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October 25, 2011 Updated Oct 25, 2011 at 11:24 PM EDT

TOWN OF AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) -- Williamsville South High School played host to a parent forum on adolescent depression and suicide awareness. About a dozen youth program and service agencies were part of a resource fair that gave parents a chance to talk to those specializing in working with teens. The second part of the evening was a panel discussion. Phil and Linda Chearmonte lost a teenage son to suicide in February of 2010.

"We think that if we can help to eliminate the stigma surrounding the issues of teen depression and suicide...and bring they out of the darkness...as we say...we know that if we can possibly be able to prevent one person from taking their own life, we feel like our efforts will be worthwhile," remarked Phil Chearmonte.

Williamsville, Amherst, Clarence and Sweet Home School districts joined together to organize the forum...which had been planned for more than a year. "When you look at suicide in the youth, you can often dismiss it or avoid it altogether or realize it's a real problem. It's a real issue. It's not unpreventable. It can be talked about. It can be discussed. It can be dealt with openly honestly and directly," said Eric Weaver the regional director of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Parents were able pick up a lot of useful information. "Having a child...teenage children...there's a lot of very good information and resources and they answered a lot of real life questions," said parent Ann Marie Paul. The evening was geared for parents of teens...but lessons learned now might be used in other situations.

"The support that everybody needs...no matter what level...what age. To be an open ear and to ask the question...to try and look out for what they might need," said Paul Gardner, a parent and teacher in Clarence.
"Suicide prevention is not just for adolescents...it's for everyone. You never know when you are going to be the position of being able to help someone. So, we want to spread the word far and wide...to everyone we can..that help is available,' added Joan Chipps from the staff of Veterans Administration Healthcare Buffalo.