Suicide Prevention Month Event Planned by Partners Health Management, MHA in Forsyth County, Forsyth County Behavioral Health Services and WS/FCS

Winston-Salem, NC [Sept. 14, 2023] – Partners Health Management, Mental Health Association (MHA) in Forsyth County, Forsyth County Behavioral Health Services and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS) have partnered to host a “Conversation on Suicide Education & Prevention” on Sept. 21, 2023, promoting suicide awareness prevention.

The event will be from 5:45 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in the Media Center at Carver High School, 3545 Carver School Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27105. Mental health professionals will be on-site for the event.

Mental health has become a growing concern among youth nationally. According to the 2019 Winston-Salem/Forsyth County High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which was administered to 1,786 students in 16 WS/FCS high schools, there was an increase in the percentage of students who reported feeling sad or hopeless continuously for two weeks or more in the past 12 months and who said they seriously considered attempting suicide during the past 12 months. Preliminary data from the 2021 YRBS showed similar results.

“The data in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey is alarming and shows the need for ongoing mental health services both in schools and throughout the community. Our district mental health plan includes components, which are focused on ensuring students feel capable, connected, and cared for but we cannot do this work alone,” said WS/FCS Superintendent Tricia McManus. “We are fortunate to have so many community partners committed to the well-being of our students.”

Andy Hagler, executive director of MHA in Forsyth County, which provides mental health education and connects people to available resources and services, said this is the second suicide prevention awareness event planned in Forsyth County since May. “This event was purposefully planned at one of our local public high schools because there is a mental health crisis among the youth not only in our community, but across the nation and we want to get people talking about suicide and what you can do to prevent it. Talking openly about suicide saves lives.”

Nationally, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death among people of all ages. In 2020, there were an estimated 1.2 million suicide attempts in the United States and 45,979 people died by suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (APSP).

North Carolina reported 1,441 deaths by suicide in 2020 with suicide being the second leading cause of death for North Carolinians ages 25 to 34 and the third leading cause of death for youths and young adults ages 10 to 24, according to CDC data. In 2019, over four times as many North Carolinians died by suicide than in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.

“We must take action to help the large numbers of Forsyth County residents who are reporting that they are struggling with their mental health,” said Denise Price, Behavioral Health Services Director for Forsyth County. “This is a critical conversation for our community to have to bring awareness, reduce stigma, and have a positive impact on the mental wellbeing of the residents of our community.”

During the suicide awareness event on Sept. 21, two short videos about the effects of suicide from the family and community perspectives will be shown. Partners produced a video featuring students with the United Way of Iredell County and Iredell/Statesville Schools for a campaign to inform, educate and provide resources to middle and high school students following an increase in suicides in that community. “Our hope is that these videos will help others impacted by suicide as well as bring awareness,” said Beth Brooks, Member Engagement Supervisor with Partners Health Management.

The second video features Forsyth County parent Zakiyyah Niang, who lost her daughter Mariam to suicide in 2022. “I want to continue having hard conversations about how we prevent and reduce the numbers of completed suicides in general, but especially in the African American community,” Niang said. “Talking about it is merely the first step, we have to enact action and keep the lines of communication open so that people suffering know that they have a multitude of options and support.”

Partners offers a Behavioral Health Crisis Line 24/7/365 at 833-353-2093 for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis. Details:

Other Crisis Resources:

  • Call or text 988 or chat via org/chat/ for crisis support for yourself or a loved one. No matter where you live in the U.S., you can use 988 to get 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors for help with mental health-related distress including thoughts of suicide, a mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress.
  • Contact Mobile Integrated Healthcare (MIH) at 336-703-2273 or by contacting the communications center at 336-727-2222. MIH is a team of advanced paramedics employed by Forsyth County Emergency Management Services (EMS) that respond to behavioral health crises and work to divert hospital admissions where clinically appropriate. MIH is available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
  • Visit the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) operated by Daymark Recovery Services at 650 N. Highland Ave., Winston-Salem, N.C. The BHUC is open 24/7. No appointment necessary.
  • Call Mobile Crisis Services, which is provided by Daymark Recovery Services, at 1-866-275-9552. A clinician will respond to the scene where there is a person in crisis within two hours. 

Partners Health Management is a leading local managed care organization (LME/MCO), providing access to care for central and western North Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens. Partners manages Medicaid, state and local funding for intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental health and substance use disorder (IDD/MH/SUD) services in our covered areas, which includes Burke, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Rutherford, Stanly, Surry, Union and Yadkin counties.

We are recognized across North Carolina for our Partners Community Model and unwavering commitment to the counties and the families we serve. Through our steadfast community focus and longstanding partnerships with local stakeholders, agencies and elected officials, our members receive the care and support they need.

Established in 1946, the Mental Health Association in Forsyth County (MHA) serves as the community connector, educator and resource navigator for mental health care and services in Forsyth and surrounding counties in North Carolina.

ABOUT FORSYTH COUNTY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES: In 2022, Forsyth County created a separate Behavioral Health Services Division, reporting to the consolidated Health and Human Services, to assure dedicated resources solely focused on managing the county’s mental health, substance use, and intellectual/developmental disability responsibilities. The Division offers programs and services, funds many community organizations and providers, and serves as a convener between the state, community providers, the LME/MCO, and the community. Services/supports reporting to the Division include the Pharmacy, Stepping Up/Mental Health Court, Peer Support Specialist at the public library, and Substance use Health Educator.

ABOUT WINSTON-SALEM/FORSYTH COUNTY SCHOOLS: Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools formed in 1963 with the merger of the Winston-Salem and Forsyth County districts. It is the fourth-largest system in North Carolina and the 81st-largest in the nation. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools serves more than 53,000 students in Pre-K through Grade 12 with the goal of providing a quality education for each child. The school system has 42 elementary schools, 15 middle schools, and 16 high schools. Eight specialty schools bring the system-wide total to 81.

View a PDF version of this press release.

For more information, please contact:

Rachel Porter, Chief Administrative Officer

Chris Runge, WS/FCS Executive Director of Communications and Media