At its annual meeting in May, United Way of Mid Coast Maine presented its Community Builder awards to the Boothbay region’s Hope and Resilience Committee and to the Midcoast Community Alliance in Sagadahoc County, two coalitions working to prevent youth suicide. United Way Executive Director Barbara Reinertsen and United Way Board Chair Connie Jones, of Boothbay, presented the awards, saying that the winners had “gone above and beyond in working to build an even stronger, more compassionate Midcoast Maine community.”
United Way noted that a survey of Lincoln County high school students found that 23.8 percent reported feeling sad or hopeless, and 12.9 percent seriously considered suicide, with the numbers in Sagadahoc County even worse, with 28.7 percent feeling sad or hopeless, and 19 percent who seriously considered suicide – the highest percentage in the state.
“These local citizens looked at the increasing numbers in their home communities and decided they needed to understand, and to act,” said Reinertsen in presenting the awards. She praised members for banding together into coalitions, holding community forums, raising awareness about mental health challenges, and planning future actions to try to reduce or eliminate suicide.
Reinertsen also thanked the Boothbay group for giving guidance to the newer Midcoast Community Alliance.
“We all know that there’s a long way to go,” said Reinertsen. “And we know that progress, and prevention, are possible. We salute these two groups, and everyone else who is working to help our young people toward health and happiness.”