Submitted by Meg Dickens
On Friday, September 10, the Johnson County Senior Center was closed for a training session through the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) in honor of Suicide Prevention Month and Suicide Prevention Day. Ballad Health Trauma Prevention Specialist Heatherly Sifford led the training and offered state and national statistics. The technique revolves around QPR, which stands for Question, Persuade, Refer.
Suicide is considered a taboo subject. Multiple experts have explained that the stigma around the subject makes reaching out for help more difficult for those fighting it. Sifford agreed, stating that “stigma is a huge risk factor because we’ve made it a huge risk.”
Volunteers and staff from the Johnson County Senior Center loaded up and headed to the former site of Shady Valley Elementary to spend time with Shady residents on Wednesday, September 1. Despite the weather, the event drew a crowd, with final check-in numbers coming in at 79.
Participants enjoyed soup beans, cornbread, and other foods catered by the Shady Rock School ladies and paid for by a Danny Herman Trucking donation. The Senior Jam musicians accompanied the event with live Appalachian music on stage. Food Lion donated various baked goods, and each participating senior won something in an old-fashioned cakewalk. In addition to the cakewalk, seniors also won mums and Dollar Store gift cards in a few rounds of Shady Valley trivia.