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Community holds meeting to address teen suicide in Allegheny County

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ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. - A community-wide meeting to address teen suicide rates in Allegheny County was held Monday night in Richland Township.
 
Rev. Tom Sparacino at St. Richard Parish in Richland Township said a community solution is needed now to end the epidemic. 
 
“It’s a community responsibility, and it’s a community problem that we need to take the veil off. The veil needs to come off of suicide,” he said.
 
A community-wide meeting called “Suicide: Let’s Get the Conversation Started” took place at St. Richard Parish’s social hall on Monday from 7 to 9 p.m.
 
The goal for those who organized the meeting was to find a way to curb the alarming trend of teenagers taking their own lives.
 
According to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, there have been 49 suicides among teenagers since 2010. Five involved students in the Pine Richland community, including two in the last six weeks.
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More than 100 people attended Monday night’s meeting to hear emotional stories and ways to get help.
 
Jesse Waren described the impact of his son taking his own life four years ago.
 
“All I have left are memories, and the funny thing about them is they get harder and harder to recall,” he said.
 
Waren’s testimony was the type of story that Bob Gilg said he brought his 12-year-old granddaughter to hear.
 
“She might see herself or somebody in need and say, ‘Can I help you out?’ She wouldn’t have come here. (She) might not even think about it,” he said.
 
After the meeting, nearly 50 people signed up to form a group to provide help and guidance for a community in need.
 
“It’s important for them to know about mental health because they’re often the first ones to know that their peers are struggling,” psychiatrist and parent Jennifer Slane-Porco said.
 
For anyone dealing with bullying and/or suicide issues, the following organizations have hotlines available to call and speak with someone:

The Pine Richland School District will also have a meeting about its polices for helping to prevent teen suicide at a meeting next week.