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Genesee County Mental Health extends invitation for residents to join suicide prevention forum

By Mike Pettinella

Genesee County Mental Health, in observance of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September, is inviting community members and healthcare providers to participate in a Rural Listening Tour on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 to learn more about the rural environment factors that may contribute to mental health concerns and the increased risk of suicide.

Coordinated by the University of Albany’s School of Public Health,    the listening tours will consist of two 90-minute forums in four rural New York counties. One forum will include community members at-large (Sept. 30) and the other will consist of community providers/stakeholders (Oct. 1).

“Each county setting has its own unique aspects and cultural norms that can influence people’s mental wellness,” said Lynda Battaglia, Genesee’s director of Mental Health & Community Services. “We expect that our participation in these Listening Tour forums will generate valuable information that will enable us to better serve our residents.”

Battaglia advised that the purpose of the program is to gain insight on the following questions:

  • What are the main factors that contribute to increased risk of suicide in rural New York? What factors contribute to positive mental health and wellbeing?
  • How do community members seek help for behavioral health concerns, and what factors influence these help-seeking preferences?
  • How can rural communities – individually and as a whole – improve availability, awareness, access, and utilization of mental health services and resources?

At the conclusion of the project, each county will receive a presentation (in-person or virtual) and written summary of the results and recommendations coming out of their forums, Battaglia said.

Furthermore, information gained across all eight forums conducted in the four counties will also be aggregated to develop an overall set of recommendations to present to the Rural Suicide Prevention Workgroup and to the New York State Suicide Prevention Council.

“Ultimately, the listening tour protocol will be refined and disseminated statewide so that all counties will have the tools to conduct their own forums in the future,” she added.

The forums, which will be confidential in a Virtual private group setting, are scheduled as follows:

Sept. 30, 4:30 p.m., for Genesee County residents (no other requirements are necessary).

Oct. 1, 1 p.m., for community providers/stakeholders (requirements are that participants must be service providers/stakeholders who provide services to Genesee County. This could include school personal, law enforcement, emergency management services, religious establishments, etc.).

Those interested in participating are asked to contact Brenda Reeves at 585-344-1421, ext. 6681, or at The deadline to respond is Sept. 27. A Zoom link will be provided upon registration.

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