Suicide task force is mission that we all can share

Just because incidents of suicide don’t usually garner front-page headlines or bulletins in the electronic media, that in no way diminishes the seriousness of the problem here in central Pennsylvania.

Mirror reporters have delved into the problem and its effects on families, loved ones, friends and workplaces — even communities in general — in articles in today’s edition.

Meanwhile, regarding the scope of the problem in Pennsylvania:

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, in a statement in October, called attention to a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that disclosed a 34 percent increase in the commonwealth’s suicide rate between 1999 and 2016. The auditor general said that “most troubling, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among Pennsylvanians ages 15 to 34.”

It’s important to emphasize that the deaths noted in the CDC report weren’t just in the metropolitan areas of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie and Harrisburg; too many happened in this part of the commonwealth, Blair County included.

The reason Mirror reporters have taken such a close look at the suicide problem — spending many hours in recent weeks investigating the extent and impacts of it — is because of an effort being launched to help a local agency whose mission is averting suicide through education, collaboration and outreach.

Management and staff at the Mirror hope that by providing a clear picture of the problem to the tens of thousands of this newspaper’s readers, many with the financial wherewithal to do so, will help in the battle against suicide by contributing to the Blair County Suicide Prevention Task Force.

The task force is the recipient of the 2018 Altoona Mirror Season of Sharing campaign.

Practically everyone has the capacity to contribute some amount because no donation will be too small, just like there will be no limit on the amount anyone or any business or organization can give.

The Suicide Prevention Task Force is the right resource, once it helps avert a suicide, to assist the troubled individual in resolving the issue or issues that prompted him or her to consider that tragic option of no return.

This is the 14th consecutive year for the Season of Sharing campaign, which each year has benefited a different charity. Full-page advertisements detailing the current campaign and how to contribute have appeared in the Mirror several times over the past couple of weeks.

Again this year, the funds raised through Season of Sharing will be administered by the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation. Every dollar donated will help fund the task force’s work — and all money that’s donated will be tax deductible.

To help make contributing easy, a preprinted envelope is included with today’s Mirror for people who haven’t already contributed using the coupon that was part of the full-page ads. Meanwhile, the Mirror is partnering with several community arts groups as a means, through their productions, to raise money for the campaign.

Contributions also may be hand-delivered to the Mirror offices at 301 Cayuga Ave.

The message that the full-page ads sought to convey was that helping to “find light amidst the darkness” is a mission through which all contributors can gain a big measure of personal satisfaction — knowing that their dollars someday might help save a life or lives.

What an appropriate gift for a season during which a birth and giving are such focal points.

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