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."