Local luncheons to focus on suicide, depression

The number of suicides in Lake County has ranged between 61 and 70 a year for the last five years — a sobering thought that upcoming events will address.

Organizers are hoping the recent suicide of onetime Lake Forest resident Robin Williams will shed a global light on mental illness, depression and suicide during Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 8-14.

• On Monday, Sept. 8, the Lake County Suicide Prevention Task Force will host a special luncheon to recognize the three years the group has been in existence and bring together community members who have been affected by suicide or attempted suicide.

The free event will include presentations by experts in the field and information on how to identify and help potentially suicidal people.

The luncheon will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center, 3010 Grand Ave. in Waukegan in the board room on the third floor.

The Lake County Suicide Prevention Task Force strives to deepen awareness and save lives through education, links to resources and treatment within the community.

To reserve a spot for the free luncheon, call 847-377-8297.

• Lake Forest’s Amie Marks will focus the fall Women in the Know luncheon discussion series on teenage mental health and suicide.

Marks set her fall session topic long before Williams’ death, but believes the timing may help bring more people together to grow from his struggle.

“The Robin Williams situation definitely is validation, in a way, that this is obviously something that needs to be focused on and talked about and maybe perceptions will change,” Marks said. “Robin Williams admitted he had problems with mental illness, admitted he sought help.”

Williams’ lost battle may serve as a wake-up call that “this is a real disease,” she said.

Marks has invited experts in the field of teen depression and suicide to speak at three separate luncheon sessions.

“I’m definitely not an expert in this area,” she said.

Marks will be joined by Gail Cutler, whose daughter Rebecca succumbed to depression and bipolar disorder at age 30. Cutler founded Rebecca’s Dream to promote awareness and compassionate understanding of depression and bipolar disorder.

Penny Robbins of Kinderhaven Preschool Academy in Lake Forest, who also works with struggling young people, will attend the sessions and offer advice and insight, along with local psychiatrists who specialize in teen mental health.

Throughout the series, professionals will discuss youth exposure to drugs, social media and other pressures, and the toll it can take on their mental health.

Marks’ hope is that attendees walk away with some knowledge about how to pass along the right tools to today’s kids to help them cope with the difficulties they face.

“This topic is a scary one, it’s vast and it’s confusing,” Marks said. “At the same time, there are things that can be done. If our perception changes and we recognize it as a disease, treat it like a disease and approach it in a different way, we may change a life or two.”

The Women in the Know lunches meet from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Lake Forest Club, 554 N. Westmoreland Road in Lake Forest on Thursdays, Sept. 25, Oct. 30 and Nov. 20. Spots for the free luncheon must be reserved by Monday of the same week.

Women in the Know forums are free and open to the public. Attendees are encourage to bring a friend.

To reserve a space or for more information, call 708-524-9374 or visit www.WomenInTheKnowForum.com.

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