Suicide Prevention Conference aims to teach warning signs

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A local center with a focus on mental health asked community members to put their heads together Friday and strive for a greater awareness on suicide.

Life Management Center of Northwest Florida held its seventh annual Suicide Prevention Conference Friday afternoon.

It was a four-hour seminar that included open discussions, education, and a speech from a mother who lost her son to suicide.

The organization's mental health first-aid instructor says ridding the issue of it's stigma is a first step.

"They don't understand that mental health isn't different than any other of your health issues," Tricia Pearce said. "I know we all talk about cancer and heart disease and other things that can be a problem, but people are afraid to talk about mental health because there is a stigma attached to it and we need people to understand that these are really diagnosable illnesses that can be treated. There is help for it."

Pearce teaches mental health first-aid courses to the community free of charge, where participants learn how to recognize early signs of mental illness, and how to respond in a crisis.

"If you see somebody that they're, they seem to constantly be depressed or sad, maybe they have started really using substances weather of the alcohol or drugs or something," she said, "something that they are using an excess more than I have before. Maybe they're withdrawing from family and friends and not active in things that they have been before."

To sign up for courses, or if you have further questions, you can contact Life Management Ceter at 850-522-4485, or go to