Restoring Hope/Inspiring Action
November 10 is Veteran's Day. Over 20 veteran/military men and women die by suicide each
day! We need faith communities to address this and develop programs, church bulletins, personal outreach, prayers, etc. to reach those who struggle. Help us to help them by donating a one time gift of $20 in honor of these brave people!
I have been working in the suicide prevention movement for 23 years since my wonderful, beloved son, Todd, died by suicide Christmas of 1993. Even though I was a master's level social worker at the time, I did not have one course in crisis intervention or suicide prevention! I vowed to do what I could to see that all persons are educated about prevention and to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
I worked first on a volunteer national level to initiate and found the National Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan, then statewide to form the Illinois Suicide Prevention Coalition. Both of these efforts live on today and have blossomed into accomplishing many achievements that truly save lives and offer hope to those who have lost it.
But I became keenly aware in the last 5 years that the last frontier of stigma was faith communities. I have now dedicated my time to reducing stigma, offering training and public health education to congregants and supporting clergy in their efforts to reach out to those who despair.
The new 'reformation' in 2017 can begin by erasing the stigma of suicide prevention and mental illness by talking openly about problems, solutions, and treatment.
By hiding this discussion or avoiding it, we make sure that people cannot reach out for help, Instead those who suffer from emotional pain feel ashamed to admit vulnerability and talk to friends and family.
Remember "Suicide happens when pain exceeds the resources for dealing with pain."