Afflicted with a high suicide rate, Pike is dedicated to prevention, plans events

Suicide. According to recent research sponsored by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania on suicide rates across Pennsylvania counties, Pike County is above the statewide average of 15.7 suicides per 100,000 residents. Pike’s rate is 25.0.

| 08 Sep 2021 | 03:16

September is Suicide Prevention Month, a time when health organizations participate in education to raise awareness and help people to better understand issues related to suicide and mental health, reduce the stigma associated with this topic, and spread hope to those whose lives have been affected by suicide.

Suicide is a widespread issue. For every lost life there are 147 individuals affected, according to startling 2019 national statistics. It is important to understand that there is no typical suicide victim. Checking up on loved ones is essential. Knowing how to offer support and provide access to prevention resources may help save a life.

According to recent research sponsored by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania on suicide rates across Pennsylvania counties, Pike County is above the statewide average of 15.7 suicides per 100,000 residents. Pike’s rate is 25.0.

Statistics provided by Carbon, Monroe, Pike Mental Health and Development Services (CMP), indicate that in 2020, there were 11 suicides in the County. This was an increase by 6 deaths from the previous year. Commissioner Matthew Osterberg says, “We need to make sure that individuals who need help know how and where they can access services. Whether it involves making resources more readily available or implementing prevention programming, our local organizations are working to address this issue.”

Local events

Carbon, Monroe, Pike Mental Health and Development Services (CMP) will host several suicide prevention and mental health awareness events during September:

● There will be a screening of the documentary My Ascension, Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the Pike County Training Center, 135 Pike County Blvd, Hawley. The film follows a young woman after a suicide attempt that left her paralyzed. She used her experiences to bring attention to suicide prevention and mental health awareness by creating programs to help others going through similar experiences. Following the screening, there will be a panel consisting of professionals and community partners to discuss suicide prevention efforts and mental health resources. The event is free. However, registration is required. For more information call Larissa Kimmel at 570-350-0585.

● Additional screenings will be held Monday, Sept. 13, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Lehighton Recreation Center, 243 South 8th St., Lehighton, Pa.; Tuesday, Sept. 14, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at East Stroudsburg University, Abeloff Convocation Center College Circle, East Stroudsburg, Pa.

● CMP will also be holding the Make and Take Care Night. The event will consist of a fun night out where individuals can learn new ways to relieve stress while connecting with others. CMP reminds individuals that self care and taking time to destress and unwind can have significant effects on overall wellbeing. Larissa Kimmel, Systems of Care Coordinator at CMP, says, “Suicide prevention is not just about hearing loss stories. Suicide prevention begins with taking a proactive approach by creating positive coping skills.” To register email The event dates are as follows: Saturday, Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Akenak Park, PA-739, Dingmans Ferry, Pa.; Monday, Sept. 20, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Leighton Recreation Center, 243 South 8th St., Lehighton, Pa.; Tuesday, Sept. 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m, at ESU Innovation Center, 562 Independence Road, East Stroudsburg, Pa.

● On Saturday, Sept. 25, Wayne/Pike Northeast Suicide Prevention Initiative (NSPI) will be having a Suicide Prevention & Remembrance Walk, at Wallenpaupack Area High School, Route 6, Hawley, Pa. Registration opens at 10 a.m. Programs begin at 11 a.m. The prevention and remembrance walk will commence directly following the program. A $10 donation includes a tote bag. There will be a resource table, entertainment, refreshments, giveaways and a basket raffle. Please direct any questions to John Nebzydoski at 570-253-9200 or

Services in progress

NSPI is working on a project to bring additional mental health resources to rural areas. This is an important initiative because according to research from Central for Rural Pennsylvania, “the gap between rural and urban county suicide rates has been increasing... In 2018, the rate in rural counties was 25% higher than the rate in urban counties.” Providing counties with adequate resources is essential in seeing a decrease in suicide rates.

CMP is also hoping to develop a LOSS Team in the area, which would be the first to operate in the state of Pennsylvania. A LOSS Team is a group of individuals, consisting of suicide loss survivors, first responders and community members, responsible for providing loved ones with support, hope, and resources immediately following a suicide attempt.

CMP is seeking interested individuals to attend a LOSS Team training seminar in September organized by Suicide Prevention Alliance. It is a two-day hands-on workshop lead by Dr. Frank Campbell, where attendees will learn group facilitator training and LOSS Team training. The deadline to register is September 7th. More information can be found via LOSS Team Training and Suicide Support Group Facilitator Training - Suicide Prevention Alliance. Register for LOSS Team training session via LOSS (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors) Team Trainings (

New perspectives

Another local service available is the New Perspectives Crisis Residence provided by Resources for Human Development. It is a short-term residential program that provides supervised mental health stabilization services as an alternative to psychiatric hospitalization. The service is available to adults in Carbon, Monroe and Pike Counties. For more information visit New Perspectives Crisis Residence | Resources for Human Development (

Additional local and national resources

● To learn about local treatment services and resources available visit Carbon, Monroe, Pike Mental Health and Development Services via or at 570-421-2901

● National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

● New perspectives, Carbon, Monroe and Pike County Crisis: (570) 992-0879 or 1-800-849-1868

● Monroe County Suicide Prevention Coalition:

● Pike and Wayne County Northeast Regional Suicide Prevention Initiative:

Editor’s note: Shannon DeVuyst is communications coordinator for Pike County.