In an effort to create a central portal for information on suicide prevention, education, and resources, MCES has created a website, MontcoCares.org, which is replete with information on suicide prevention.
The website provides information on risk factors, facts about suicide as it relates to various populations, including individuals with mental illness, the elderly, and those with intellectual disabilities.
At MontcoCares, one can also locate material pertaining to coping after a suicide loss, after an attempt, and mental health services and organizations that may be able to help individuals and family members. The site was initially created by MCES with a coalition between Montgomery County Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities, NAMI-Montgomery County, NAMI-Main Line and the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Taskforce.
Since then, the site has been expanded and enhanced by MCES Development Director and Suicide Prevention Coordinator Tony Salvatore and now offers a wealth of information on anyone seeking guidance or assistance with suicide prevention. Multiple versions of the unique Suicide Prevention Tool Kit MCES developed are also available online at MontcoCares, including editions for police/emergency responders, family members, and school counselors.
At MCES, MontcoCares refrigerator magnets are being given to all patients upon their discharge from inpatient treatment by the Allied Therapy department as a way to ensure that this important resource is always close by.
Thanks to the Clayman Family Foundation, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and some very talented artists, the creative and performing arts continue to be a regular part of life at MCES.
Two live arts events, one in the cafeteria at MCES and one at CRP, occurred in August, giving attendees two unique experiences; and there is much, much more to come.
MCES's partnership with Art-Reach, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that provides artists to inpatient facilities, enabled artist, educator, and writer Averil Smith Barone to CRP in late August to do an imaginative Watercolor and Poetry Workshop with CRP residents. All residents at CRP at the time participated in the hour-and-a-half-long workshop designed to give participants a basic knowledge of different watercolor techniques. CRP residents were inspired by nature-themed haikus (one resident even wrote her own) to create a watercolor painting based on one of the poems. Averil is a prolific artist, focusing on local nature and interior scenes and, for nine years she worked as an artist representative for illustrators.
On August 5th, local singer-songwriter Nicole Zell paid a visit to MCES's inpatient unit, where she performed an hour's set of original music and covers of some well-known songs by artists like Johnny Cash and Elvis. Zell's rich and powerful voice sailed through the air and moved some patients to tears, particularly during her rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine." A talented young performer, Zell is also a member of the Chester County Suicide Prevention Taskforce and has played at several mental health and suicide prevention awareness events. She hosts a radio show on AM radio called "Soundstage."
Two exciting, high-profile arts events are in the not-too-distant future at MCES. Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter Deirdre Flint, a member of the band "The Four Bitchin' Babes," will be performing a solo concert at MCES on October 2. Deirdre has released three albums and has performed in over 50 venues across the United States, including the Kennedy Center. Her satirical folk-rock songs blend biting humor with honest sincerity.
MCES is also honored to announce that on November 21 legendary New Hampshire-based musician Bill Staines will play a concert for patients and staff. Bill Staines has been performing for forty years. Every year, he logs over 65,000 miles on his cross-country tours. He has performed on the popular, national radio programs "A Prairie Home Companion" and "Mountain Stage", and his songs have appeared in several feature films. Over the course of his long career, Bill has recorded 26 albums, and, according to the Associated Press, is "one of the best songwriters in folk music today." Back by popular demand, Nicole Zell will be returning to MCES on November 21 to open for Bill Staines.
"There are some things we all know, but we don't take'm out and look at 'm very often."
Over two dozen staff members gathered in the sweltering heat of the air condition-free theatre at Building 33 on August 25 to begin rehearsals for MCES's production of "Our Town."
To open the rehearsal, cast members went around introducing themselves and everyone shared one memory from when they were twelve years old, hearkening to a moment in the play where the character Emily, who has died, makes the decision to go back and witness her twelfth birthday. Those in the cast shared a mixture of touching and amusing anecdotes from their past (several, coincidentally, involving baseball) and, after a few announcements, the read-through began.
For some in the production, this is their first experience in a play. For others, it had been some time, years and years, since they last set foot onto a stage. There was some anxiety in the air, to be sure. However, as the pages in the scripts turned and as the minutes clicked by, it was easy to feel and notice these performers easing their way into the text and into their roles, finding humor and sincerity in the words of Thornton Wilder, and in each other. The night was filled with beautiful, small moments. Every now and then, I would glance up from my book and notice someone in the room watching someone else, taking in what they were saying - listening intently, looking. Sometimes I felt like we were looking at each other for the first time.
That, of course, is one of the messages of this great play, and an important reminder of why it was decided to stage this production: to look– really look - at one another.
Rehearsals for "Our Town" will be Monday and Wednesday evenings in the auditorium at Building 33. The play will be performed on Saturday, November 15 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, November 16 at 2 p.m. There will be no admission fee charged, just a suggested donation to the MCES Patient Fund. Please mark the show dates on your calendars and come support the MCES staff who are already working hard to bring to life one of the most important and beautiful American plays ever written.
- by Gabriel Nathan
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."