Skip to content

First Selectman Messages

Town of Canton >> Boards and Commissions >> Board of Selectmen >> First Selectman >> First Selectman Messages

9/11/2017 - 09/11/2017


Dear Canton Residents,

This month, our Year of Mental Wellness campaign focuses on Suicide Prevention. In support of this effort, the Town of Canton is providing a free suicide prevention training session to the general public on September 21st, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at the Community Center (see flyer). This training is also available to members of any Town Boards or Commissions, and Town employees on Wednesday, September 13th from 10:00 am – noon (see flyer). Prior registration for either session is required by calling the Office of Senior and Social Services at 860-693-5811, extension 3.

I’m happy to share with you September’s Mental Wellness column, written by Mental Health Task Force member, Tom Steen. Next month, we’ll look at ways to Take Charge of Your Finances, and the stress that money matters can create in day to day life. Thank you for your support of Canton’s Year of Mental Wellness.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy September.
Leslee B. Hill
First Selectman

Spotlight on Mental Wellness
Suicide – It’s time to start the conversation

My son, Tyler Steen, and actor Lee Thompson Young, who portrayed “Jett Jackson” in the Disney series, have an unending bond.

They both died by suicide.

My son’s death in December, 2009 was a highly personal, emotional family event. Despite the differences in their fame, both young men have become sad statistics.

In Connecticut alone, one person, on average, dies each day by suicide. The true tragedy is suicide is one of the most preventable causes of death.

It has taken me many sleepless nights to come to grips with our family’s loss. Today, I am asking you to join the conversation about suicide and how, together, we can understand why someone, especially a young person, would end their life.

I’ll never forget the overwhelming sorrow and emptiness I felt when Tyler passed. As time went by, I began to recover and decided to honor my son’s memory by helping others who are at risk. I have found that the best way to prevent suicide is through communication and education.

To this end, I have become a suicide prevention “Gatekeeper” trainer. This training has taught me that most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their struggles. Suicide can be prevented by recognizing and responding to these clues. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, show them you care and utilize a trained professional to address the issues.

I blame no one for Tyler’s death. His “demons” were his own. If I (or we) knew the suicide prevention protocols, he might just be alive today.

September 11Th through the 15th is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week, it’s a perfect time to educate yourself on suicide prevention. Here are some action steps you can take:

• Know the warning signs: They can include; talking about suicide, seeking out lethal means, preoccupation with death, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, self-loathing, self-hatred, getting affairs in order, saying goodbye, withdrawing from others, self-destructive behavior or a sudden sense of calm. The more warning signs observed the greater the risk. Take all signs seriously!

• Ask the question: Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. You can't make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from the hopelessness or helplessness they suffer and may prevent a suicide attempt or death. If you find it hard to ask the question, find someone who can.

• Refer them for help: Suicidal people often believe they cannot be helped, so you may have to do more. Listen to the problems leading them to consider suicide and give them your full attention. Do not rush to judgment. Offer hope in any form. Work to get them to accept your help. The best referral involves taking the person directly to someone who can help. The next best referral is getting a commitment from them to accept help, then making the arrangements to get that help. The third best referral is to provide referral information and try to get a good faith commitment from them to get help and not attempt suicide. Any willingness to accept help at some time, even if in the future, is a good outcome.

• Resources: If you feel that someone’s in imminent danger, always call 911. In Connecticut, you can call 211 for assistance 24/7.
The National Suicide Prevention help line is 800-273-TALK

As uncomfortable as this subject might be, I invite any of you who wish to” start the conversation” by visiting and learn more on what you can do.

Canton will be offering suicide prevention trainings—Question-Persuade-Refer (QPR) for all municipal employees as well as providing a training for the general public on Thursday Sept 21, 2017
6:00-8:00PM. Call Senior & Social Services at 860.693.5811 x3 to Register.

Be the one to start the conversation.

Written by Tom Steen on behalf of the Canton Mental Health Task Force.

Spotlight on mental wellness is an initiative of the Canton Mental Health Task Force, facilitated by the Farmington Valley Health District. For our Year Long Call-to-Action and additional resources, go to:




Kevin Witkos
First Selectman
Phone: (860) 693-7847

Office Hours:
 click here to make an appointment

Canton Town Hall
P.O. Box 168
4 Market Street
Collinsville, CT 06022