COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Albany County is shedding light on those who are struggling and survivors of the mental health crisis. The community is raising awareness during National Suicide Prevention Month.
The Albany County Executive’s Office, the Albany County Suicide Task Force and the Albany County Suicide Prevention Committee hosted the Flames of Hope remembrance ceremony Wednesday night at the Crossings of Colonie.
Members of the community gathered to shine light in the dark spaces of grief, and shame to the topic of mental health.
“It has been a long time since my family was touched by a death by suicide and yet it never gets any easier,” said Mary Rozak, Director of Communications for the Albany County Executive.
Mary Rozak shared her families story as she lost her brother to suicide 13 years ago.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look at a picture of my brother. I still have the picture on my kitchen counter and look at when he was a happy 6-year-old at his birthday party,” said she.
Organizers say they wanted to end the stigma and raise awareness.
“Mental health issues touch us more than one would assume. I think a lot of times it makes us feel like we are very alone and that we aren’t the only ones going through it,” said Jessica Padula, a local fitness instructor.
Over the last 10 years, Albany County has lost 385 people to suicide. Last year, the county saw the lowest numbers of suicide deaths with 28 lives lost. Dan Egan says one life lost is too many.
“We want to make sure folks start the plan on their mental health before they reach a crisis point, said Dan Egan the Board Chair for the Capital Region Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
In a time where many people are feeling alone or isolated because of the pandemic, it’s okay to ask for help and Albany County offers many resources.