Posted Monday, September 17th, 2018

Cautionary Tale is Part of a National Suicide Prevention Month Forum on Sept. 26 in Pequannock

A Montville couple whose son died by suicide at age 16 will share their story to help parents, other caregivers, and young people identify red flags for suicidal thoughts and depression, as part of a free community forum in Pequannock on Wednesday, Sept. 26.Montville Family to Share Story of Teenage Son's Suicide

Remembering T.J. —A Story of Teen Depression, Lessons & Hope will be held at 7 p.m. at the First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains (529 Newark Pompton Turnpike). The event, sponsored by the nonprofit Community Partners for Hope in Pequannock and Lincoln Park, marks National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in Stigma-Free Morris County.

The Sefcik family created a nonprofit organization to raise awareness about teen suicide after their son, T.J., died in 2010. As he entered adolescence, their outgoing, funny, and sensitive boy became increasingly irritable and disrespectful, Wendy Sefcik wrote on the family nonprofit’s website.

“While concerned, we had no idea he was battling depression nor that depression was so common in teens,” she wrote. “One in eight teenagers will suffer a depressive episode before they reach adulthood.”

The Sefciks are working to help parents and educators understand what depression can look like, including symptoms that often are dismissed as typical teenage behavior. They urges participants to pay close attention to their mental health.

“It’s a story people need to hear,” said Mary Vineis, director of Community Response and Education at NewBridge Services, a nonprofit that runs in-school prevention programs and provides addiction treatment.Montville Family to Share Story of Teenage Son's Suicide

“It can be difficult to distinguish between depression symptoms and regular adolescent behavior because it is a time of very conflicting emotions and constant mood changes,” Vineis said. “Even if they tell you everything is OK, if something in your gut says that something is off, you’ve got to delve deeper.”

Remembering T.J. —A Story of Teen Depression, Lessons & Hope is free to the community but registration is required. The presentation is appropriate for middle school, high school, and college students. Go to cpfh1805.eventbrite.com to sign up.

Community Partners for Hope is a not-for-profit corporation that seeks to build stronger communities through awareness, advocacy and action to address societal issues. It was formed in 2015 by the leadership team of Grains of Hope (GoH), a grassroots program based in Pequannock.

It is sponsored by civic, community, and faith-based organizations in Pequannock and Lincoln Park.

For more information, visit www.cpfhnj.org , follow on Facebook, or email [email protected].