Mark Manno and Doug Crouse of University of Delaware Cooperative Extension have received the Delaware Award for Heroism for their role in helping prevent a suicide at UD’s Paradee Center in Dover in December 2013.
Those in the Paradee Center at the time of the event, Marianna Freilich and Christine Vennard, were also honored for their role in preventing a tragedy.
Manno, state 4-H program leader, explained that with a rash of teen suicides in Kent County last year, Delaware 4-H had held a number of staff training workshops addressing the issue.
“We had done staff training in August on suicide prevention and the science of suicide, and then we joined the Sussex County Health Promotion Coalition to co-host training with guidance counselors, principals and staff from Sussex school districts in early December at the Carvel Center, so we were pretty much in the loop on the issue,” said Manno.
Still, he said, “To have that transpire was difficult and it is fortunate that nothing bad happened.”
When asked how he knew what to do in the situation — a man had entered the Paradee Center in Dover saying he wanted to take his own life — Crouse explained, “Sometimes I just think in life that your human side takes over and I saw a person there that I knew needed help. I feel that just taking the time to talk to someone sometimes can help, and that’s really all I did — I just took the time to start talking to him.”
Both Manno and Crouse, Extension agent and 4-H and youth development director for Kent County, were modest when talking about the award.
“We just did what most people would’ve done. We just tried to help the guy. I mean that’s what we do, we help people,” said Manno.
Crouse added, “When it was first mentioned to us that they were going to present us this award, I thought, ‘I didn’t do anything to receive an award.’ I guess someone saw something in this process that they recognized as worthy of recognition so I appreciate that person for taking the time to write up the award but, again, I never did it for the award.”
If there was one thing Crouse wanted people to take away from the story, it is that the human side will always take over and that it is a good thing to help others.
“Every time everyone talks to me about it, I shrug it off like it was no big thing. I guess the main thing I probably have pointed out to people is that it’s OK to help,” said Crouse. “Unfortunately, we live in an environment where we are fearful of so much, but I keep coming back to this — the human side of you takes over and you just feel compelled to help people, and I am that type of person. I will help anybody if I think I can.”
The two have also been invited to a formal statewide recognition program in which they will be recognized by Gov. Jack Markell for their actions.
Article by Adam Thomas
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