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Chappaqua Residents Share Experiences At Suicide Prevention Forum

Richard Klein, left, and Janine Crowley Haynes, right. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Sean Mayer Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
The suicide prevention panel at the Chappaqua Library. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- When Chappaqua's Janine Crowley Haynes made a suicide attempt a decade ago, it came as she was struggling with bipolar disorder.

“For me it was more of a culmination of dealing with this illness for so long and just wanting out of my body and wanting to just feel relief," she said.

Haynes who called her attempt as "a rash decision made with an irrational mind" was among four panelists speaking at a suicide prevention forum on Tuesday at the Chappaqua Library.

The forum, which was sponsored by The Mental Health Association of Westchester (MHA) and The Journal News, covered anecdotes from panelists and in addressing the stigma surrounding suicide.

Sean Mayer, an editor at The Journal News who served as moderator, called for putting emphasis on eliminating stigma. Mayer, who lost his brother in 2014 to suicide, said that from 2009-13, 342 people died by their own hands in Westchester County alone.

Richard Klein, a Chappaqua resident who lost his son, Jeff, to suicide in 2010, discussed the stress he has when he fears for the safety his younger two sons. As an example, he recalled the anxiety he had when one of them said he was going to run in a race. Klein explained, from what he has learned, that his condition has been described as akin to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), something that is often associated with war veterans.

Klein contributes to a blog called Kleinsaucer , where he shares experiences and memories of his son.

Rebecca Walkley, a mental-health counselor who lost a loved one to suicide, described the different variables that affect how a person deals with suicide of someone close to them. They include what the relationship was like, the person's age, how the person died and whether the death was witnessed.

The talk also included warning signs for suicide. Barbara Bernstein, who is with the MHA, cited direct statements that a person may make, such as being explicit with committing the act. There are also implicit remarks, she explained, such as a person calling themselves a burden to their family.

Another topic that came up was the state of survivors' guilt.

“You better believe I feel guilt, incredible guilt," Klein said. He discussed regret that he had for not taking off time from work and in not taking his son elsewhere to help him.

Klein also mentioned how people have reached out to him to share their own experiences.

Video of the entire forum discussion is available here on New Castle Community Media Center.

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