First and foremost, if you are struggling with thought of suicide or need support in any way, or are a family that has lost a loved one to suicide, please visit this website or call this number:
1-800-273-8255 or test ‘help’ to 741-741
I recently began volunteering to help stop suicide. For most people who join a cause such as this, it is very personal. I am no exception. I know that the mental health care system in our country is broken, and am thankful for those who work with NAMI, The National Association of Mental Illness, which I support through donations as well, but for me, I needed to help in a more specific way.
Why Suicide Prevention became my cause
Out of respect for the privacy of some people that are close to me, and honestly, my own privacy, I won’t give out too many details. But I personally have seen severe depression, anxiety, and many attempted suicides up close. It is heartbreaking to see people struggle with mental illness and suicidal thoughts. We have had two deaths by suicide in our local Boy Scout Family. They were both very different in many ways. But what they did share is that they both hid their struggle very well, and they were both very beautiful people who were loved by all of us! I again don’t want to share too many details out of respect for the families, but it made me realize that I wanted answers. After the second death by suicide in our small Scout Troop, I needed to know. Could I have done something differently? Were there signs I missed? How can I best support people who are struggling? And how can I support the families that lost a loved one?
I was used to talking to a family member, who I knew was struggling, but I didn’t have a clue when it came to the possibility that I might be talking to someone who might have thoughts of suicide or self harm. What are the Warning Signs? How do I talk to someone who is struggling? How do I talk to the family who has just lost a loved one to suicide. After the loss of the Scout, I would sit with the family and talk, but mostly listen, and then go home and cry for hours at the loss of such a young life. Such a needless loss. And yet I didn’t feel equipped to help. And honestly, I like many, have not stayed in constant contact with the family. I withdrew a bit out of my own discomfort at my lack of knowledge about how to help and how to support.
So I did what I tend to do when I need to know more about a subject, I went online and read. After doing some research I came upon American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They by far, provide the most on the ‘front lines’ so to speak, as well as all the way up the chain, like pushing to change laws that will help people who are struggling find the help they need quickly and easily. So I signed up for a volunteer meeting and attended.
Volunteer, Advocate, Sponsor
And that was that. The group of volunteers that run the Orange County chapter are the most compassionate, caring, dedicated people I have ever met. I am now an Advocate for the cause, so I contact government representative to let them know that mental health issues and laws must be changed and supported, and specific laws are necessary to provide a support system in order to decrease the number of deaths by suicide by 2025. I also volunteer at local support and fundraising events, such as the Walk to Prevent Suicide, which this year raised more than the goal of $20,000. Half of that money will stay in Orange County and go to support and programs here in our neighborhoods.
And I also am a sponsor for events. The most recent was the OC Out of Darkness Walk/Walk to Prevent Suicide. I also Volunteered along with my husband, oldest son, and daughter-in-law during the event and we helped check-in participants for the event.
Here is some more info on the walk this year.