MILTON, Ga. — Residents of Milton and beyond are encouraged to attend “Suicide, A Community Conversation” Tuesday, Sept. 10 at Milton City Hall.
A panel of experts will address suicide prevention and mental health. The event, put on by the City of Milton and The Summit counseling, takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The discussion has a special meaning for Lauralyn Mustaki and Britt Beene, who will speak at the event. Both mothers lost children to suicide.
Mustaki’s daughter, Ivey, took her own life in March 2018 at the age of 18. Beene’s son, Reagan, took his life in 2013 while a freshman at Cambridge High School. According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens.
Mustaki said there have been a rash of teen suicides in Milton, and shining a light on the subject is vital.
“We have needed to have this discussion for a while,” she said. “It’s a conversation we need to have because we need to be comfortable talking about it and saying something like this could happen,” Mustaki said.
The event was inspired by Beene’s experience in her new hometown in Texas. After a teen who lived nearby took his own life, a local counselor asked her to join a panel with counselors, police, and school officials for an event discussing suicide.
While discussing suicide is a challenging discussion to have with your kids, Beene said it is critical to do so, and she wants to shake the belief that discussing suicide will inspire the act.
“It’s a tough conversation, but you are going to talk to your kids about things like sex and drugs and anything that can possible harm them,” Beene said. “You don’t want to expose them to that because you want them to stay a child and little and innocent. But for the same reasoning that talking about birth control won’t make your daughter have sex, talking about suicide is not going to make them commit suicide. It is going to make them realize it is never a solution.”
Mustaki said no parent expects suicide in their family, but being comfortable talking about the subject and learning more can be beneficial.
“You don’t raise your only daughter to have such an extreme emotion come over them that would cause such a tragic outcome,” she said. “Had I known what I know now, I probably would have handled certain things differently. There were all these things I didn’t know about that affected my daughter.”
The first step is learning, Beene said.
“People may not go because they don’t think they are going to need this information,” Beene said. “People think their child would never [take their own life]. I thought that. And it is not just parents that need to know this information, anyone in the community can help and make a difference and glean something from this.”
The panel will be moderated by The Summit’s Jason Howard and will include The Summit therapist Megan Barfield, Fulton County Medical Examiner Jan Gorniak, Dr. Ron Magat and Chelsea Montgomery, the Fulton County Schools executive director of counseling, psychological and social work services.
Beene said the diverse panel will provide varying perspectives on suicide.
“This allows you to hear my story, to see what the school district is doing to prevent suicide, how can counseling help, what are the resources available and how counseling will help,” she said. “There is something for everyone, because suicide doesn’t discriminate.”
The event will be livestreamed on cityofmiltonga.us and the recording will be available on the city’s website.