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Peace Conference concludes at Westin

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by Akina Chargualaf, for KUAM News

Guam - The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse concluded its two-day annual Peace Conference at The Westin Resort Hotel today. A total of 240 participants discussed issues relating to tobacco, alcohol abuse and suicide prevention for the annual event.

Keynote speaker Dr. Iris Prettypaint explains the importance of understanding cultural differences and relationships in her address, as she believes the activities held during the conference emphasizes the importance of these issues. "Yesterday it started with different panels that they had brought to talk about sustainability, they had some wonderful skits by young people you know on the role of alcohol, drugs and prevention and yesterday we had a candlelight vigil on the beach to remember the people who died of suicide, that was really touching to bring people together by prayer," she explained.

Several workshops were given today such as "Stop Suicide of Guam" and "Focus On Life", allowing participants to brainstorm creative and strategic ways to market suicide prevention through mass media.  Dr. Annette David, data analyst for the Peace and Suicide Prevention Project, told KUAM News, "On average on Guam, about one person dies from suicide every two weeks. But it's a silent epidemic because you don't hear so much about it and it's something that happens mostly among young people. Over 60% of suicide deaths are under the age of thirty."

Organizations such as Focus On Life, Synar, and Community Voices all participated in this conference in order to bring awareness to the people of Guam.  "I think it's critical to see the connection between suicide prevention and tobacco alcohol and drug use prevention," Dr. Davis noted, "because we're finding is that the two are very intricately linked together."

The conference wrapped-up today.

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