Suicide prevention forum confronts grief, myths, unanswered questions

East Lyme - Speakers at a suicide prevention forum hosted by the Youth Services Bureau Thursday emphasized the importance of both talking about suicide and listening to each other's needs.

"Let people know that you're there for them," John Holt, a sports reporter and anchor at WFSB Channel 3, told the audience. He asked members of the audience to reach out to someone who may be in need of help.

Holt lost his brother, Lindsey, an aspiring nurse, to suicide in 1999. Holt said the loss of a loved one to suicide causes a distinct type of grief with many unanswered questions.

Holt told the family of Brian Dagle, a 2010 East Lyme High School graduate who committed suicide 14 months ago: "I'm so impressed with your strength to be here."

Memorial contributions to Youth Services in Dagle's name underwrote the forum. Parents, young adults and town and school representatives still grappling with the loss of Dagle attended. They were at times silent but also visibly emotional, some wiping away tears.

Kevin Dolan, a close friend of Dagle's and a student at the University of Connecticut who helped raise funds for suicide awareness in Dagle's name, spoke about how Dagle introduced him to a group of friends who became like brothers to him.

"He just befriended me right on the spot, because that's the type of kid he was," he said.

Dolan said Dagle encouraged him to live life without fear and embrace opportunities.

Nena Lake, a licensed social worker, spoke about some of the myths of suicide, such as that people who talk about suicide just want attention.

"Suicide affects all ages, races and socioeconomic levels," she said. "It doesn't discriminate."

She recommended that parents monitor their children for changes in behavior and pay attention to "gut" feelings that something may be amiss.

At the end, Paul Dagle, Brian's father, spoke about how when his son died, he urged people to talk about suicide. He said he was in favor of having more suicide prevention forums.

"This can't be something that is pushed away or ignored," he said.

For more information on the program or for pamphlets on suicide prevention, contact David Putnam, director of Parks, Recreation and Youth Services, at (860) 739-5828.

k.drelich@theday.com

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