STOPit App Expands to Community

Submitted by Kate Nichols

As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to an end, it is important to remember that mental health issues impact the lives of many of our community members every day of the year. Wayne County Family Connection, in partnership with Wayne Memorial Hospital and Rayonier Advanced Materials, is excited to share a new community-wide reporting tool that will connect individuals who have concerns regarding mental health problems and substance use disorders with local and regional resources that can help.

STOPit Solutions is a leading technology company that promotes public and personal safety by providing anonymous reporting systems and 24/7 incident monitoring services for schools, businesses and government entities across the nation. Anonymity empowers individuals to reach out for help regarding sensitive issues, and trained operators are guaranteed to address reports in less than an hour. Our county will have access to both of these services, as well as a 24/7 telephone hotline.

Once implemented, Wayne County residents can download the STOPit app on their smartphones and submit reports through the user-friendly interface. When a report is received, it is assessed and routed to local professionals who specialize in mental health treatment and substance use recovery. Reporters can then engage in a two-way dialogue with a real person while maintaining complete anonymity if desired. When enough information is gathered about the incident or concern, the representative can direct individuals to the resources that best fit their needs. Reports can also be submitted through the STOPit website or telephone hotline.

The STOPit program does not replace 911 in cases of emergency or immediate danger. However, STOPit monitoring offers law enforcement integration and, in the event an emergency is reported through the app, trained operators in the STOPit Incident Monitoring Center will immediately contact local authorities with all relevant information. 

School system employees and those with a child in high school may be familiar with the STOPit program. Since 2019, the Wayne County School System has utilized the program as a proactive tool to manage and prevent incidents such as bullying, substance use and self-harm. By expanding the program to include the entire county, prevention and intervention of mental health and substance use issues can be implemented on a larger scale.

The STOPit system will allow local organizations, many of whom are already part of the Wayne County Family Connection collaborative, to further their goals of reaching the individuals who need their services most.

“This system will help identify unmet needs of individuals right here at home, who are struggling or know someone who is struggling, and may be more comfortable reaching out for help knowing they will not be immediately identified,” explains Susan DeLeGal, member of the Mental Health Task Force at Wayne County Family Connection.

Stay tuned for more information about the Wayne County STOPit program in the coming weeks, including educational tutorials showing how to download the application and use it to submit reports. In the interim, questions can be directed to Wayne County Family Connection Director Lana Wright at, or 912-256-2150.

BeThe1To Campaign Recap

The BeThe1To campaign offers awareness of how you can help people through their struggles of everyday life.

The following images are for Wayne County Family Connection’s social media pages. You can view them and read the 5 Steps of the BeThe1To campaign on the Articles tab of our website.

BeThe1To title page

Our community can help one another with asking their friends and families about their mental health when they see them struggling:

BeThe1To campaign ask

Show someone in your life how much you care for them and that you’re glad they’re in your life:

BeThe1To campaign be there

Keep our community safe by knowing about the resources available to help people through difficult times:

BeThe1To campaign keep them safe

Let them know you are there for them through all the ups & downs of life by getting them connected with support in our community:

BeThe1To campaign help them connect

Lastly, follow up with someone in your life that you know has been facing some challenges:

BeThe1To campaign follow up

We know that mental illness, emotional struggles, and other concerns can hinder someone from living life to their fullest. We have professional help available through our Mental Health Task Force team. If you or someone you know needs to speak to someone today – give this number a call.

mental health task force #

We encourage you to share these steps with your friends and family. If there is someone in your circle that could use help, put these steps into practice. You can be part of making a difference in our Wayne County community.

If your organization would like to educate, inform or update Wayne County citizens on a topic or event you’ve been working on – reach out to us so you can be featured here on our website, in the Family Connection column of the Press-Sentinel and be given a special shoutout to all our collaborative members!

Join our Collaborative Team

Additionally, the Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative would like to invite anyone in our community to be a part of our group.  For more information, contact Lana Wright at 912-256-2150.  Our meetings are the 4th Monday of each month with the next one being this upcoming Monday (10/26) at 9:30am. Visit our Family Connection tab if you have questions.

Wayne County Schools educate students on suicide awareness

wayne county suicide prevention

115 Columbia Suicide Rating Scales were completed on students who were referred to the Counseling Department this past school year. As a result of the rating scale evaluations, 31 students were hospitalized for further evaluation. Over 150 students were referred to outside counseling services for ongoing treatment. 

As we near the end of September, Wayne County High School Crisis Counselor, JoAnne Roach, and School Psychologist, Kori LeFree, created a way for students to get involved and learn more about Suicide Prevention month. 

With the recent pandemic, mental health conditions continue to rise in this unprecedented time. They saw this as the perfect opportunity to spread suicide awareness and prevention at Wayne County High School as well as both Wayne County middle schools. 

Wayne County High School holds ‘Buzz Block’ for students

On Friday, September 11th, Wayne County High School had a ‘Buzz Block’. It featured the #BeThe1To campaign that we’ve been talking about in our previous articles this month. The #BeThe1To is a national campaign. It helps spread the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide and be more aware of harmful behavior.

JoAnne Roach states, “We are aware this is a very sensitive subject that often times everyone is not comfortable talking about. To ease the process, we created a brief statement for each teacher to read and provided them with some simple uplifting activities for the students to complete.”  She also noted that the counselors were available throughout the event if the teacher noticed a student becoming upset or needs to speak with someone privately. 

WCHS students create suicide awareness videos

Another area that Mrs. Roach and Mrs. LeFree wanted to focus on were prevention efforts. Last year, high school students created videos that helped bring awareness to suicide. One video shows a friend reaching out to someone who is struggling. As the troubled teenager contemplates taking his life, his phone buzzes with his friend asking him how he is doing. The video states, “Everybody needs somebody to be there for them. You could be that someone.” To watch this video and more, scroll down to the bottom of the article.

Lastly, the counselors wanted people trained about this topic. This is important because suicide takes the lives of many each and every year. In order to do that, Wayne County purchased a research based curriculums called Signs of Suicide to implement at each school. They will first train the staff and then offer virtual training to parents. The main takeaways from this curriculum are to acknowledge and act accordingly if you see signs of suicide. By being aware of the signs, you can provide resources and get students help. All 8th and 10th graders in Wayne County will go through an assessment and be discussing this topic in depth with counselors and psychologists.   

If you have any questions about the Buzz Block or the Signs of Suicide curriculum, you can contact Mrs. JoAnne Roach at the high school. Her number is (912) 427-1088 ext. 829. 

Wayne County Family Connection Collaborative sponsored this article. Its partnership with the Wayne County Board of Education allows us to bring awareness to the needs of the community.  If you would like to become a part of the Collaborative, please contact Lana Wright at 912-256-2150. You can also contact Lana for more information regarding our Mental Health Task Force.

View videos from the High School students below:

Student sees need for suicide prevention

By Lana Wright

(Editor’s note: Lana Wright is the executive director of Wayne County Family Connection.)

The following excerpt is from an essay is submitted by a 10th-grade student at Wayne County High School to bring awareness to a current social problem we have in our community: mental health.

The essay is heart-wrenching but at the same time provides a valuable insight to what some of our students are feeling.

Wayne County Family Connection’s Strategic Plan for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a goal of combating the current mental health issues within our community. 

As you read this essay, please be aware that there are several ongoing processes currently being worked on to help with mental health Issues within our community. In order to be successful, it will take the effort of many; therefore, if you are willing to help us work on this growing concern, Wayne Family Connection welcomes any member of our community to join us.

Our next meeting will be conducted on Oct. 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The focus of our meeting is to discuss implementing mental health awareness and education. The address is 367 Bamboo St. in Jesup.

The essay reads, “An important social problem in our community is suicide. Suicides are a serious issue that needs to have drastic response. In our community, there have been a total of four high school students who have decided to take their own lives in the past four years. I want to see the high school and community take action on this. Students should not have to feel this is the only way to solve their problems.

“You never know when someone is having a hard time. I wish that the school would hire someone the students trust and they would like to talk to. Getting a professional therapist to stay at the school or even someone that can come to the school occasionally would benefit the school and the students. Another idea to help advocate suicide prevention is that the schools could have an assembly where suicide survivors could talk about their experiences and recovery. These ideas could help the current problem with suicide in our community. If the schools get someone to talk to the students, then we will hear from someone who is going through or has gone through a rough time. This would really help students cope and know there are other options, such as therapy, healthy diets, being active, etc. 

“I am nervous this is going to happen again, since last month ago another girl took her life. This negative stigma surrounding mental health needs to stop. The school and the community need to work together to resolve this ongoing mental health issue. There have been three suicides this calendar year and one a few years ago. All of these suicides need to be accounted for through new and updated programs at the high school and through community involvement. This issue can be resolved, but only with the cooperation of the high school, the community and Wayne County as a whole.”

For more information please contact me at 256-2150.