El Mirage is looking to make a difference in the lives of residents and non-residents alike when it comes to the prevention of domestic violence and suicide.
As such, the city will host its El Mirage Cares Community Forum from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23 at the Dysart Community Center, 14414 N. El Mirage Road.
El Mirage Police Chief Paul Marzocca will moderate the forum.
“Everyone can make a difference by becoming aware and knowing the signs so we can stop suicides and domestic violence,” he stated. “We look forward to engaging our community and providing education and resources.”
Mr. Marzocca told the Daily News-Sun a recent teen suicide in the community hit the department hard. Austin Hansen was a member of the El Mirage Police Explorers, a group of youth providing volunteer services to the community.
“I can feel the vibe here coming from the outside that people still have heavy hearts on stuff,” said Mr. Marzocca, who became chief in May. “Since last year we had an officer (Paul Lazinsky) pass away. It’s on the back of the minds of officers that they’ve experienced personal loss here and that just happened again with Austin.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide in 2016.
In Maricopa County, the manner of death of 23 children ages 12 to 17 was reported as suicide in 2017, up from 19 the year before, according to a report from the county Medical Examiner’s Office.
Domestic violence is also a topic of concern at the El Mirage event. One in four women and one in seven men have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime, according to the CDC.
Officials estimate one or more children witness domestic violence every 44 minutes in Arizona. And every three days, someone dies as the result of domestic violence in the state.
The Gilbert Police Department recently visited the West Valley for a chiefs meeting about domestic violence. Mr. Marzocca learned some of the incidents can arise due to alcohol use.
“Thanksgiving is usually one of the highest days for fighting believe it or not,” he said. “Why is that? You have family together, football and then drinking. And then old things come up. So right after everyone gets done eating that’s when the family arguments start. That’s one of the busiest nights for us.”
El Mirage has four people dedicated to assisting victims 24/7. The city recently credited these officials with helping more than 600 people with domestic violence issues in 2017.
More on the event
Experts in the areas of suicide prevention and domestic violence awareness will present and have informational booths at the forum.
Specialists from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office are among the professionals expected at the event.
Anyone can attend the meeting, which will have separate sessions for adults, kindergarten to fifth grade students, and sixth to 12th grade students.
“I want them to get information to be proactive, to see the signs and symptoms of someone,” Mr. Marzocca said. “You always hear afterwards, ‘You know, I didn’t think the person was serious’ or ‘I didn’t think they really meant it.’ A lot of times people cry out for help. Sometimes it’s up to us to listen to that cry. We just want to help our parents understand their children with the bullying going on and stuff like that.”
As part of the city’s Domestic Violence Awareness campaign, El Mirage has purple ribbons available for free at the police department, 12401 W. Cinnabar Ave. El Mirage, AZ 85335.
El Mirage has also encouraged businesses and residents to light their buildings purple to bring attention to the impact domestic violence has on families and children.