County Board Designates September 8 to 14 Suicide Prevention Week

The Barnstable County Board of Regional Commissioners on Wednesday, August 13, approved proclamations  designating September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and September 8 to 14 as Suicide Prevention Week in the county. The latter proclamation coincides with national Suicide Prevention Week and is an effort by the Cape and Islands Suicide Prevention Coalition to spread awareness about suicide prevention in the county.

“There are a lot of statistics I could give you...but to me, what it really comes down to and what I’d like to mention today is that it’s not really so much about the statistics,” said Jessica McHugh, the co-chairman of the coalition. “It’s about the real people, the person who is in that tremendous amount of pain and doesn’t know what to do and doesn’t see any other options other than suicide.”

One statistic Ms. McHugh did share was that between 2000 and 2011, the suicide rate on the Cape and Islands doubled. There is a tremendous need for suicide prevention in the county, she said, particularly among middle age men and youths.


“It is incumbent upon us to remember how important it is to ask each of our loved ones, ‘Are you okay?’ and to be prepared to hear if that answer is no and know what to do,” she said.

The coalition offers “gatekeeper” training to identify individuals at risk and help prevent suicides. According to the Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (2001), gatekeepers are “people who regularly come into contact with individuals or families in distress.”

Commissioner Sheila R. Lyons mentioned actor Robin Williams’s death by suicide on Monday, August 11, noting that she recognized sadness in his voice while listening to an interview from five years ago.

“If there is anything good that can come from his passing, it can help illustrate that even when someone is laughing next to us it doesn’t mean that they’re not hurting,” Ms. McHugh said.

Those who are in crisis or simply need someone to talk to can call the Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands at 508-548-8900 or 800-893-9900.

The coalition can be reached at

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The commissioners also acknowledged the Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) was nominated for the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) Community Renewables Project of the Year award. CVEC, a sister organization of the Cape Light Compact, was nominated for the 26 megawatts of photovoltaics—or electric power created using solar radiation—that it is currently installing throughout the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard.

“We’re the only cooperative that has accomplished 26 megawatts,” special projects coordinator Liz Argo said.

The organization must receive the most votes online to win by Wednesday, August 20, through the IREC website at

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The Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates will not receive special legal counsel that it requested from the commissioners, due to the fact that their request did not conform to the administrative code or the county charter.

Special counsel can only be requested for a specific reason, chairman Mary (Pat) Flynn explained, but the delegates sought an attorney “to represent and counsel them in all matters deemed appropriate” for retainage.

The commissioners voted to authorize Ms. Flynn to write a letter to the assembly explaining their denial of the request.


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