YORKVILLE – Yorkville established itself as one of more than 80 communities in the United States to declare this month as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
Yorkville Mayor John Purcell read aloud the proclamation during the Tuesday, Sept. 10 City Council meeting before the council approved it. The proclamation said Purcell encourages all residents to take the time to regularly check in with their family, friends and neighbors and to honestly communicate their appreciation for their existence.
"A simple phone call, message, handshake or hug can go a long way toward helping someone realize that sucide is not the answer," Purcell read.
Yorkville Ward 3 Alderman Joel Frieders – who gives regular updates on his involvement with Hope For The Day, a nonprofit group founded in Chicago, at City Council meetings – said the proclamation is in memory of his Western Illinois University college roommate Fasil Derege, who died May 10, 2003, and his friend and Chicago entertainer Mike Malinowski, also known as Mic One, who died July 29, 2017.
Frieders said he had a hard time talking about suicide and how it has affected him for the last two years, but he thought it has been a little easier to discuss in the last year.
“The conversation sucks," Frieders said. "It’s not going to stop sucking.”
Frieders began his work to start a nationwide conversation about suicide prevention in 2017, when he wrote a proclamation adopted by Yorkville that also outlined resources available to help people who may be struggling. He said more than 80 communities and six counties in 21 states have adopted the proclamation this year as of Tuesday, Sept. 10.
The Montgomery Village Board, Kendall County Board and Plano City Council are among the communities and counties that proclaimed September 2019 as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
Kendall County Coroner Jacquie Purcell noted in recent reports that there have been 10 suicidal deaths in the county so far. She said there were four total around the same time last year.
Not only has the county seen suicides double from last year, Purcell said, but those suicides have seemed to become more violent in nature. She said she was glad to see the county pass the suicide prevention and awareness proclamation during the Aug. 27 County Board meeting.
“I think that’s important, especially just in light of what’s happening in our own county right now,” Purcell said during the meeting.
Plano Police Chief Jonathan Whowell said during the Aug. 26 Plano City Council meeting that mental illness, depression and stress are tough areas to navigate in this country, especially for children and adolescents who deserve to have someone in their lives who can help spot those stresses and depression symptoms. He said he thinks city residents care for each other and thanked Plano Mayor Bob Hausler for passing the proclamation.
"I think it’s a great thing and it is something that we can get behind," Whowell said during the meeting.
Frieders said during the Tuesday, Sept. 10 Yorkville City Council meeting he was thankful to the city for giving him the confidence and ability to reach out to others regarding the issue on behalf of the city.
“I just greatly appreciate the fact that we’re finally having a conversation that I was ignoring for a very long time,” Frieders said.
If you or a loved one is in crisis, Kendall County Health Department crisis intervention services can be reached at (630) 553-9100. Those in crisis can also reach out to the Suicide Prevention Services of America help line, (800) 273-8255, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 784-2433.
Suicide Prevention Services of America also hosts a Survivors of Suicide support group at 7 p.m. every third Monday of the month at Advent Christian Church, 905 N. Edgelawn Drive in Aurora.