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Suicide prevention forum in Williamsville tonight

Williamsville Centeral School District
Out of Darkness flier

A forum at Williamsville South High School aims to give parents more knowledge to recognize warning signs of adolescent depression or worse.

It is designed to help parents recognize the signs of adolescent depression and spot the warnings that they may try to harm themselves. 

The forum is known as "Out of the Darkness" and takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday evening.

 Phil Chearmonte shares his family's own painful story.  Chearmonte's son ended his life early last year.

"There aren't specific answers for every issue.  The issue is broad in that suicide and depression affects every age group, every race, religion, every socioeconomic class," said Chearmonte. "We're trying to focus on our teen community at this particular forum and address those issues."

Suicide is rarely talked about publicly and traditionally gets little to no coverage in the news.  But one Amherst teen's decision to take his own life last month grabbed national attention.  

It took the self-inflicted death of Jamey Rodemeyer to raise new awareness of bullying.  But not every suicide is linked to bullying, or anguish over sexuality. 

Chearmontet had none of the issues surrounding Rodemeyer's passing.   While cases vary, Chearmonte says one of the common threads is depression and he hopes parents attending tonight have better recognition of that.

"We've worked closely with school counselors, namely at Williamsville North, and have actually been in the planning process for a year for this program that we're going to unfold Tuesday night," Chearmonte said.

The forum is sponsored by the Williamsville, Amherst, Clarence and Sweet Home school districts as well as U.B., the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the New York State Office of Mental Health.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.