Suicide Prevention Program in Wantagh Draws Large Audience

Susan Sassoon of Wantagh organizes educational program nearly a year after her son Benjamin committed suicide.

Susan Sassoon of Wantagh knew soon after getting the devastating news of her son Benjamin committing suicide on March 28, 2011 that she needed to do her part to avoid others parents from experiencing similar tragedies.

"I think right away I felt that my life was going to be different from now on and I wanted to make a difference," said Sassoon, whose 19-year old son Benjamin  last March when he jumped in front of an oncoming westbound train at the Bellmore Long Island Rail Road station.

Sassoon in conjunction with Ahava Machar Chapter of Hadassah  a teen suicide prevention program held at at  in Wantagh on Monday evening before a packed audience of many middle school, high school and college students as well as numerous parents. The program, which was co-sponsored by the Temple B’nai Torah Hebrew school and youth group, featured a presentation by Dale Camhi, Metro-NY Regional Director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Sassoon explained during Monday's program that she and her husband saw no warning signs that their son could be at risk for suicide since he was attended his dream college, the University of Maryland, had many friends and appeared to be very happy.

"He seemed to have everything going for him but somehow he wasn't happy inside," Sassoon said. "Like many teens, Ben didn't share a lot with us." 

Camhi delivered an interactive presentation about teen suicide statistics, myths and facts, warning signs and risk factors and how to talk to a friend in crisis. Two age-specific DVDs on suicide were also presented to the attentive audience. She emphasized the importance of more people talking about suicide like they do for other diseases.

“The issue of suicide prevention is probably where AIDS was 20 years ago,” said Camhi who pointed out that the latest data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited 36,035 suicide deaths in the U.S. during 2008. “We need to bring this issue out of the darkness.” 

Sassoon emphasized to the many teenagers in the crowd Monday the importance of not being afraid to ask for help when in need.

"Teenagers should realize that some problems are too big for them to solve on their own," she said. "They should realize that there is help available and all they need to do is ask a trusted adult to help them."

Paula Kanter January 11, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Dear Andrew, Thank you for covering this very important topic and meeting. I'm so grateful that it was well received and well attended. I hope that anyone who needs help will get it. Best, Paula Kanter Communications VP for Ahava Machar Hadassah
Andrew Coen January 11, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Thank you Paula. I am glad I could report on this very important topic.
K January 11, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Bless you Susan for trying to spare other families the heartbreak you have endured. I'm sure your efforts will help to save many lives.
Helen Okobokekeimei January 20, 2012 at 06:34 AM
Dear Andrew, I thank you on reporting on this story regarding Suicide Prevention. I heard about Ben's story on my local news affiliate station in the DC (District of Columbia) in March 2011 and I am sorry for what had happen to him and what his family are going through. My thoughts, condolences and prayers goes to the Sassoon's family and friends and people who knew Ben. I pray for the family and Ben's soul/spirit. I do pray for his soul/spirit and for his family everyday. I wish that I gotten to know him and be a friend to him. His story and the recent story on suicide prevention show me that people must act to help others who may be unhappy and try to reach out to them. I really believe what Mrs. Sassoon is doing to advocate on Suicide Prevention is good for teens and young adults and adults to be aware as well as taken seriously about regarding suicide. I applaud her spirit and effort of advocating for suicide awareness and prevention. I believe that this program will make a difference in the lives of people including and especially teenagers and young adults to make sure they reach out to one another in a crisis like this that must be seriously addressed. Thank you for reporting on this. Thank you. This program will not only make a difference in Wantagh, NY, but also in the rest of United States and around the world. People must be vigilant and aware of this important issue affecting the lives of teenagers and young people like myself. Thank you. Sincerely, Helen


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