Suicide Prevention Month marked in Berks with ruOK benches

SPRING TWP., Pa. - September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. While suicide is being talked about more openly, suicides have nearly tripled in the last 15 years. Help is available, and Berks County is trying something new to get the word out.

This is almost your average park bench, but one comes with a message: ruOK.

"Suicide awareness is really important," said jogger Beverly Munsing.

The bench is one of six that will eventually line the trail at Gring's Mill in Spring Township, thanks to the Berks County Suicide Prevention Task Force.

"The benches are, of course, for raising awareness in the community and giving people some though to the whole topic of suicide," said Edward Michalik.

RU ok is a question but also part of a suicide prevention campaign that allows people in their darkest moment a resource to text or call for help.

"The fact that it's out in the open and it's not where people will normally go for that type of information but it might actually stick in their head," said Munsing.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, but suicide prevention is something that's being target year round.

In 2018 -- 61 people in Berks county committed suicide. So far this year, the deaths sit at 37. Statistics show white men between the ages of 40-60 are most at risk.

"We're losing far too many people to suicide," Munsing said. "t's been estimated that for every one person who dies by suicide, six people are affected, at least. You come from a big family, that's even more."

On top of the texting options, by the end of October, video chatting with crisis intervention workers is expected to also become available.

Text ruOK: 484-816-ruOK (7865)

Berks County Suicide Prevention Line: 610-236-0530

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