70+ attend mental health program in Gretna

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Saturday, September 21 was National Thank a Police Officer Day. Also on that same day was the first event for “Mental Health Matters… You Are Enough!” Jim and Susan Hunt, owners of Tyler Flower Shop in Gretna, sponsored the event, organized by suicide prevention volunteer and longtime friend Holly Boles. 

Boles, who professionally is a 911 dispatcher for Pittsylvania County, asked Mr. Hunt whether he would like some signage of her artwork, which is inspired by butterflies and mental health awareness. “Holly is so talented,” Mr. Hunt said. “She lit the light in my candle right here. And we took off with it.” Boles spoke with him again in a few days and Mr. Hunt drove to Danville to the Trophy and Sign Center. The center had the signs printed and hung on the outside of the flower shop within a month.

Sheriff of Pittsylvania County Mike Taylor attended the awareness event, which attracted over 70 people interested in mental health. Sheriff Taylor said, “Mental illness used to be such a stigma. Those with mental illness were kind of looked down upon. Now police officers go through training and can recognize behavior related to mental health.” That is also true of officers who work in the jails.

For more on this story, see this week's Altavista Journal