Walk for Suicide Prevention on Saturday

Published 7:32 am Wednesday, March 14, 2018

CORDELE– This Saturday, March 17 will be the first Walk for Suicide Prevention in Cordele. The walk will begin at 9 a.m. located at the Crisp County Recreation Department walking track. The walk is in memory of Brandon Jacobs, a 20-year-old man who committed suicide on February 3, 2016. His mother, Becky Vaughn is arranging the event in partnership with the Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce.

“I can think of at least two more men here in Crisp County for 2016 and then probably five or six people in Crisp County in 2017 (who have committed suicide). But nobody in town wants to talk about it. It’s in memory of my son. I just posted one day on Facebook that I would like to do something like that then the Chamber with it and it went from there,” Vaughn said.

So far there are about 125 people registered to participate in the walk. Vaughn says that she is still receiving registration forms daily via email from more people who are planning on taking part. The event is completely free, and people are encouraged to come the day of, even if they haven’t registered.

“The reason we have the registration forms is so we can order enough t-shirts because the event is completely free. I want teenagers and young people to not be discouraged from coming because of any kind of cost to it. We’ve gotten several sponsors from around town to help make it happen,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn hopes to continue and make this an annual event with each year in memory of different people who have committed suicide.

Facts about suicide in Georgia:

According to the CDC, Georgia lost 1,409 people to suicide in 2016. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in Georgia, 2nd leading cause of death for ages 25-34, 3rd leading cause of death for ages 10-24, and 4th leading cause of death for ages 35-54. Nearly twice as many people die by suicide in Georgia annually than by homicide; the total deaths to suicide reflect a total of 26,788 years of potential life lost before age 65. In the United States, every year men die by suicide 3.57 times more often than women do. The rate of suicide is highest in middle age men. White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016. On average, there are 123 suicides in the United States per day. Firearms account for 51% of those suicides.

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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.