From the desk of Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson Jr.

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Since my time in middle school I never really understood the need for the
semicolon. Honestly, it just seemed to serve no purpose. I thought, ‘Just use a
period, start a new sentence and move on to another subject. That was the
amount of thought I gave to the lowly semicolon. Life moved on, I grew up and
started my career. I never gave it any more attention. Then a couple years ago I
started noticing semicolons, not in sentences, but as stand-alone items. It
seemed a little odd at first. I would see a tee shirt or a bumper sticker and there
would be the semicolon (;). It was not long before I started seeing semicolon
tattoos. I certainly thought it was a strange fashion statement, but really, I am a
middle age father of two girls. I surely I do not qualify as a fashion expert.
Finally, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked a young woman, “why the
semicolon?” Then as the late Paul Harvey would say, I learned the rest of the

The semicolon has been adopted as a symbol of suicide prevention and as a
visible reminder of those who survived a suicide attempt. You see, the
semicolon is used when an author could have ended a sentence but decided to
continue. In that light, the semicolon is the perfect symbol to bring attention to an
epidemic that plagues this country, state and yes, this county. I cannot begin to
describe the heartache and soul wrenching pain I have witnessed over the
course of my career, as families struggled to understand why. Even as they
struggle to come to grip with the loss of their loved ones they bear the shame
that is often attached with suicide. Many families refuse to acknowledge or
accept what really happened. This embarrassment and denial compounds the
problem because many families will not seek help or identify the root causes.
There are many reasons that a person decides to end their life, and while none of
them may justify their actions in your mind, it doesn’t change the outcome. The
average time before someone makes the conscious decision to take their own
life has been shown to be as little as three and half minutes. That is one reason
people are taken aback by their loved one’s death. Countless times, I have heard
family members and friends tell me that they had just spoken with their loved one
and that they were happy and smiling. And yes, they were having a few
problems, but they were coming out of it. Other times I have heard people pass
judgment by making statements about the suicide that are unbelievably callous
and woefully ignorant of the facts surrounding suicide. Trust me, telling someone
to just snap out of it or move on will not help deal with serious depression, health,
financial, physical or emotional pain. There is a time and place for tough love. It
is not however when dealing with someone on the brink. We can make an impact
and save lives by acknowledging the problem and working to get someone in
contact with the help they need. If you are a surviving family member know that
there are many of us who care and you are not alone .The National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline is 1-800- 273-8255

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