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"Start The Conversation" Will Focus on Suicide Prevention

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Anyone who works with young people is invited to an event Saturday, September 7, in downtown Springfield that’s aimed at suicide prevention.

Start the Conversation will teach attendees the warning signs of suicide.

The event is free and open to anyone who works with youth, according to its co-organizer, Karla Myers.

"So, if you're a scout leader or a youth leader in your church or anything to do with youth or if you're just interested in suicide prevention, this seminar is open for anyone that's interested," she said.

The educational portion, which starts at 2 at the Gillioz Theatre, will be led by two experts in suicide prevention, Dr. Paul Thomlinson of Springfield and Dr. Bart Andrews of St. Louis.  No tickets or reservations are needed.

A concert Saturday night will start at 7 at the Gillioz with The Rosy Hips, Fishing for Saturday and Makenna and Brock.  Doors open at 6:15, and you need to pick up a free ticket ahead of time at the Gillioz Box Office or online.  Suicide prevention information will be shared with the audience between sets.  The first 300 in the door will get a free t-shirt, and everyone who attends the concert will get a $5 concessions voucher.

The goal of Start the Conversation, according to Myers, is to save lives.

"We know that suicide is rising at an alarming rate," she said, "an in Missouri, and especially in Greene and Christian County, our suicide rate for young people is higher than the national average."

Even if just one life is saved, she said, they will have met their goal.

Myers is working with Lenette Kujawa and the nonprofit group, Ozarks New Hope, to bring Start the Conversation to Springfield.