COUDERSPORT — An Oswayo Valley student is taking a tragic event and turning it into something to help her community.
Makenzie Good’s best friend, Austin Joseph Lancenese, 17-year-old Galeton resident, died by suicide in June. She organized a suicide prevention walk in his honor and since then has raised $1,000 for the Potter County Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Task Force by selling T-shirts, bracelets and pizza.
Makenzie plans to make this an annual event to help the task force.
The task force is made up of professionals from different walks of life who are dedicated to suicide prevention programming throughout the county. They meet monthly to plan prevention efforts and discuss suicides that have happened in the county and what they can do for prevention.
“I think being on the task force, coming from different professions really helps us bring something to the table,” Taylor said. School administrators, judges, CYS and drug and alcohol prevention are all represented on the task force.
It’s not a nonprofit organization yet, but they plan to apply for that status soon.
Katie Taylor, member of the Potter County Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Task Force, said it was an amazing event.
“We have put on other events before, but I’m not sure we have had one that has brought in this much money in the past. I think that her age and her creativity and her passion for suicide prevention and what unfortunately happened to her friend, it’s a blessing that she was able to provide this donation because it means we’re going to be able to provide a lot more suicide prevention programming to the kids in our county,” Taylor said.
With this donation, Taylor said registration for nonprofit status will be more attainable.
Makenzie said she hopes more people talk about suicide. She said it’s talked about a little bit, but people don’t always realize the impact it has on a community or that it is a leading cause of death in many states.
Kristy Good, Makenzie’s mom, said it’s important for people to understand that suicide doesn’t only impact the person who died. Makenzie said it impacts their friends, family and the entire community.
Events like this help raise community awareness, Taylor said, and shows that people are suffering and they’re mourning a loss. She agreed that it’s a chain reaction and suicide impacts everyone.
“You just never imagine, even in Potter County, how many people it affects,” Makenzie said. “It’s just really something that more people need to understand.” She hopes the annual walk she has planned will help just one person spread awareness.
Through Makenzie’s work to promote suicide prevention awareness, she has been invited to attend the Yellow Ribbon Task Force meetings. Taylor said it’s been helpful for them to have a student’s perspective.
Good, Makenzie’s mom, said she is amazed at what Makenzie has accomplished and overcome.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” she said.
If you are having a mental health crisis, the national suicide prevention hotline number is 800-273-TALK(8255), or you can text ‘Help’ to 741741. Locally, the Dickinson Center crisis hotline numbers are: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday 814-274-8651, press 1 for crisis. After those hours, call 1-877-724-7142.
To donate to the Potter County Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Task Force, email Katie Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.