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Monday, February 12, 2007

Needham confronts teen suicide

The Needham suicide-prevention poster.


In its first public response to four teen suicides between November 2004 and April 2006, a suicide-prevention coalition this April will blanket Needham storefronts, restroom stalls and school hallways with posters reading “Listen to the Silence.”

The poster also includes a statistic from the 2006 Needham Youth Risk Behavior Survey: “In Needham more than 135 youths in grades 8 to 12 made a plan to commit suicide, and more than 60 made a suicide attempt.” Youth Commission Director Jon Mattleman said coalition members deliberated heavily about whether to use the statistic, with some feeling it was too “in your face.”

“My comfort zone was gone when the first kid committed suicide,” said Mattleman.

In addition, the coalition is encouraging families to read William Styron’s 84-page book "Darkness Visible: a Memoir of Madness," his personal account of depression and suicidal thoughts. The Youth Commission is giving away 50 free copies, after which the books will be available for a discount.

-– Lauren K. Meade

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