SEPTA and MCES met today, World Suicide Prevention Day, at the Norristown Transportation Center to unveil signs with the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The Lifeline, of which MCES's Crisis Center is a member, is a number that anyone can call anywhere for help if they are experiencing thoughts of suicide. Area calls to the Lifeline's number are routed to MCES's Crisis Center.
Signs bearing the number 1-800-273-TALK have been posted at strategic points at the Norristown Transportation Center and are the first phase of a roll-out that will feature signs at railway stations and right-of-ways all along SEPTA's routes. These signs will offer a clear, direct path to help for individuals who are actively suicidal or are in the planning stages. The signs will also help decrease the stigma of suicide and its prevention efforts by placing the information in the public consciousness.
At the unveiling, SEPTA was represented by Jerri Williams, Director of Media Relations, who spoke about the significance of this partnership on World Suicide Prevention Day. Scott Sauer, SEPTA Director of Safety and Risk Management, spoke about how half of all deaths on SEPTA property are ruled suicides, making SEPTA's commitment to this suicide prevention project meaningful and timely. Scott then introduced Montgomery County Commissioner Leslie Richards, who shared some facts about the prevalence of suicide in the United States and offered the support of the Montgomery County Commissioners for this important suicide prevention initiative.
MCES was represented by Development Specialist Gabriel Nathan who said that, "if a person doesn't know where to turn in a time of crisis, the result can be catastrophic—that is why SEPTA's installation of signs bearing the number 1-800-273-TALK is so important." Gabe also shared that other resources created by MCES will be replicated by SEPTA to better assist their officers and rail-workers engage an individual who may be suicidal on SEPTA property. Gabe concluded his remarks by stating that, through their support for and commitment to this partnership, SEPTA is making sure that "every day is Suicide Prevention Day."
The Montgomery County Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities recently funded $1,300 worth of MCES Suicide Prevention Tool Kits to assist with suicide prevention efforts.
MCES created versions of the Tool Kits for law enforcement/emergency responders, high school counselors and family members.
MCES has distributed versions to area police officers and high school Student Assistance Program counselors. Kits are given out by clinical staff to patients and family members.
The County is currently considering the best way to distribute the kits in its possession. MCES is grateful for the county's support of this initiative.
Thanks to generous grants from the van Ameringen Foundation and the Dr. H. Glenn Sample, Jr. Memorial Fund, Registered Nurses at MCES are going beyond the walls of the hospital to continue making a difference in people's lives.
Community training for all eight participating RNs is complete and nurses have been hitting the street making visits in the community to help prevent recidivism and enhance individuals' recovery in the community.
The program's criteria have been widened so that more individuals will have access to the RN visits and can benefit from a clinician checking on their welfare in the community. Enrolled individuals will receive five in-person visits from a MCES RN in their first month post-discharge and then four telephone check-in calls for their second month out of the hospital.
One of the nurses participating in the program, Naomi Finkel, said of the experience that "the simple act of a one hour wellness visit is so appreciated by this patient, her feelings of isolation are a little less that week."
Naomi reported that the patient made statements such as, "I know that someone really does care".... "I don't get too many visitors"... "I was worried you weren't coming this week."
"That lets me know that this program is helping to fill a lonely void that some patients experience when leaving the hospital," said Naomi. "I'm looking forward to experiencing the positive effect this program will have on all of us."
Music poured out from the MCES courtyard on July 10 as 44-four members of the Merion Concert Band played a special twilight concert for patients and staff.
From the moment that the band sounded the energetic first notes of John Williams' theme from the film "Cowboys" to the closing, stirring sounds of "Stars and Stripes Forever," everyone present was engaged and attentive. During some of the songs, particularly the Cuban song "Malaguena," some staff and patients danced together to the infectious rhythm.
This is the first time that the Merion Concert Band, founded in 1977, has played at MCES, or any other similar facility. The band performs year round, rehearsing at local elementary schools and performing at Harriton High School and the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr. In addition, the band has a summer concert series, mainly in outdoor venues.
Patients from MCES's inpatient hospital, residents at MCES's Crisis Residential Program, and staff members from both were attended the outdoor concert underneath a beautiful sky that, thankfully, held no threatening rain clouds.
MCES Development Specialist Gabriel Nathan, who arranged and coordinated the event, said, "I couldn't be happier with the way the concert turned out. This was a unique opportunity to have a group of this caliber and size come perform for our inpatient population."
This concert, the largest single creative arts event at MCES since its inception forty years ago, was made possible by a generous grant from the Clayman Family Foundation. The purpose of the grant is to support live creative and performing arts events at MCES.