Say Bias Sparking Suicides

The East Hampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force, concerned about what its members say appears to be an increase in young adult and high school suicides that may have been related to gender identity and to bullying, is seeking support for increased mental health services here.

In a presentation last week at an East Hampton Village Board meeting, Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, who is the town board’s liaison to the committee, summarized the task force’s recent activities and said its members believe the town faces “a bias issue.”

Looking back over the last few years, Ms. Overby said the task force had recently updated a brochure that includes resources and is printed in both English and Spanish.

Among its accomplishments, Ms. Overby said, was the screening of two documentaries at LTV Studios in Wainscott, “A Time For Justice,” which begins with the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision that outlawed school segregation and continues to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and “Mighty Times: The Children’s March,” which chronicles a nonviolent protest in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. A panel discussion moderated by the Rev. Katrina Foster, formerly of St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett, followed.

The task force also sponsored a student film contest on suggested themes, such as anti-bullying, diversity, and acceptance of others. The films were presented at LTV Studios and at Town Hall.

The group also sponsored events at Town Hall featuring Lucius Ware, president of the Eastern Long Island chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Rabbi Steven Moss, chairman of the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission and Interfaith Anti-Bias Task Force.

The East Hampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force is chaired by Rosa Scott and includes East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. and 19 others. It is scheduled to meet on the second Wednesday of each month.