By Lt. Rudy Diaz
Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) brought the message of suicide prevention to the institution in September.
During National Suicide Prevention Week, CCWF held events and activities planned to bring about awareness and create a community of support.
The five-day event was kicked-off by the Warden (A) Pallares and Suicide Prevention Coordinator Dr. Opheim.
There were presentations throughout the week that included a select group from the inmate population sharing stories of suicide attempt survival and a representative from the American Suicide Foundation.
An outside speaker from the local community shared her story of transformation from being part of the juvenile justice system, a substance abuser, and suicide attempt survivor, to becoming a motivational speaker and light of hope.
Events on Sept. 11 included the newly acquired institution firetrucks, flag presentation by the Veteran Color Guard, and a Dove Release. Events also included a presentation by the choir, an inmate interpretive dance performance, and a high fitness exercise class facilitated by a former NFL cheerleader.
The week concluded with a game day to build relationships within the inmate community and bracelet distribution where funds raised will be donated to Suicide Prevention organizations.
Throughout the week, booths sponsored by inmate led agencies as well as the Amity Foundation and Religious services were available for information and handouts, an encouraging word, or a hug.
Inmate and staff turnout exceeded expectation with 300 to 500 present each day to hear the positive messages and create a system of support to break the silence and end the stigma of suicide and mental illness.