Health Preventive Action of Cullman: increasing awareness of mental health issues, resources | CullmanSense

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Preventive Action of Cullman: increasing awareness of mental health issues, resources

CULLMAN - When it saw the increased number of suicides in Cullman County in 2017, a small group of concerned citizens started looking for something it could do to make a positive difference in the lives of people who are hurting.  Founding members Justin Lynch, Jerica Jones and Cliff Powell (a 2015 CullmanSense Citizen of the Week and author of “Pray Hard & Speak Life”) are not mental health professionals, counselors or vocational ministers; they are just people who felt the need to do something.  And they became Preventive Action of Cullman (PAC).

Lynch explained, “Towards the end of last year, I got together with a couple of people, and, you know, just posed the question of who would be interested in putting together a group to kind of fight against depression and suicide and bring awareness to it within Cullman.  And we got several people that felt the need that there was a need for that.

“So, starting this year, in January, we’re setting up meetings in a different community each month.  So, in January we did our event at Good Hope Community Center, to target the Good Hope community. And then, last month, we did Cold Springs and that community.  And so, in March, we’re actually going to be meeting in Dodge City, at the town hall there, the 24th of this month.”

The goal

Lynch continued, “But really, what the goal is, is to set up in each community, because there may be people that are struggling with depression or suicide themselves, or they know somebody that is.  A whole lot of people, if they’re dealing with it themselves, they’re not really wanting to reach out and talk a whole lot. We’re targeting those people, but we also want to target the ones, if they know a friend or a family member, or someone like that who is dealing with depression, or dealing with suicidal thoughts or whatever.

“Obviously, our main goal is that we want to let people that are struggling with it or that are in a state of depression (know) that there are people out there that care about them, that love them, that will listen to them.  And we figured kind of the best way to reach out is to host a community event in each community.

“And then also we really want to focus on getting into schools and stuff like that, just to kind of talk to kids that are in high school and things like that because, looking through research, high school age up to early to mid-20s, it’s a pretty high rate with that age group that ends up dealing with suicide.”

At its community meetings, PAC provides visitors with fact sheets on suicide in Alabama, along with information on recognizing the warning signs of a person in danger, and an extensive list of resources like phone and text hotlines and websites.  PAC also attempts to bring in people with stories of real-life struggles to help listeners know what those struggles are like, and help the hurting know that they are not alone in their experiences.

For now, PAC is a Cullman County project partnering with like-minded local groups like Karma in Cullman and Cook Ministries in Hanceville, but Lynch and its other members hope to see the program reach students and communities in Birmingham, Decatur and Huntsville.

For now, they’re reaching out, making contacts and appointments, forming partnerships and plans.  Nothing fancy, just concerned and committed. As Lynch said, “It’s just a small group of people that saw an issue and wanted to provide a solution for it, to help.”

Upcoming PAC event

PAC will be at Dodge City Town Hall at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 24.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/CullmanIntervention.

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