SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) is the nation’s largest nonprofit agency working to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, reduce stigma and serve as a resource for those touched by suicide. One of the founding members of the National Council for Suicide Prevention, over the last 27 years SAVE has created, developed and studied numerous public awareness campaigns designed to help raise awareness of suicide and mental health issues. SAVE has developed many best practice endorsed suicide prevention and grief materials as well as one of only three evidence-based programs for suicide prevention in high schools. They annually hold the longest running suicide memorial each spring and they house the world’s only suicide prevention memorial wall. SAVE is run by Dr. Dan Reidenberg, an internationally recognized expert in the field, 5 staff and hundreds of volunteers across the country, as well as an all volunteer Board of Directors.
SAVE partners with many organizations and businesses in achieving their mission. Whether schools or hospitals, law enforcement agencies, Fortune 500 companies and small businesses, SAVE is there to help prevent suicide and respond when a suicide tragedy has occurred in any community. We are proud to partner with Pura Vida throughout the year in promoting their efforts to help raise awareness about suicide prevention through the sale of their bracelets. September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, yes, there really is such a day. While many would not know that, for some of us who live with or care for someone living with a mental illness, or that you lost to suicide, WSPD is an important day each year. Most people do not realize that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. It is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people and we lose someone to suicide every 12 minutes. Research shows that 90% of those who die by suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death. Sometimes undiagnosed, other times misdiagnosed, either way mental health issues play a significant role in nearly all suicides. SAVE runs the annual www.Take5ToSaveLives.org campaign for WSPD and we encourage everyone to take 5 minutes to learn about suicide.
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September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, yes, there really is such a day. While many would not know that, for some of us who live with or care for someone living with a mental illness, or that you lost to suicide, WSPD is an important day each year. Most people do not realize that suicide is the 10 the leading cause of death in the US. It is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people and we lose someone to suicide every 12 minutes. Research shows that 90% of those who die by suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death. Sometimes undiagnosed, other times misdiagnosed, either way, mental health issues play a significant role in nearly all suicides. In recognition of WSPD, I want to share my story with you and how SAVE has played a crucial part in my life.
Mental health and suicide prevention is an issue close to my heart. I have had multiple members of my family struggle with their mental health, and am making mental health a career for myself after having worked my way out of a relationship with my mother who was mentally abusive. I am currently a therapist at a partial hospital program for eating disorders, working toward licensure as a LMHC in New York. Unfortunately, people tend not to seek counseling when things seem to be going right in their lives, and many times, my clients and patients find me when they are a very dark place. It is my job as their therapist to do safety assessments when necessary, to help them identify protective factors and personal traits of strength and resilience in order to keep them safe, to help them heal, and to enhance their mental wellbeing. It is sometimes difficult to encounter so many people who are dealing with mental illness and suicidal thoughts, unhealthy relationships, and who are battling their own thoughts on a daily basis, wishing I could just “make it all better” for them. However, it is extremely inspiring to be a witness to people who decide to have faith that things can improve (even when they can’t feel it), and to continue to fight for their lives.
In an even more personal way, I was touched by suicide when a classmate and friend of mine, named Brent died in July of 2012. He was always one of those people who had a smile on his face and was making others laughed. He had a beautiful little girl named Alice, and anyone who knew anything about Brent knew how much he loved her. He had just graduated from the undergraduate program I was in, and was about to begin the mental health counseling graduate program I ended up going to. He was going to have a concentration in play therapy, and we all know he would’ve touched so many lives clinically, because he had already done that just by being himself. I knew that he had been having somewhat of a rough summer in 2012, as one day he told me of his many stressors (all while smiling), but I (and I’m assuming mostly everyone else) didn’t know the severity of his struggles. After a night of drinking, Brent had taken his life one night, shocking everybody who knew him to their core. His family, friends, professors, co-workers, and even strangers who had merely heard of Brent were completely distraught. We all wished that we could’ve “done something” to prevent it, or knew “why” this had happened. We still do, and sadly we will never get the answers, and we will never again be graced by his physical presence.
For Brent, the story did not end the way any of us had hoped. Today, I live still trying to figure out and understand why this happened- something so common for those of us, who have lost someone to suicide, and to try and take the tragedy and make it positive. Though the pain of losing someone I care for never goes away, it made such a difference knowing an organization like SAVE existed; an organization of compassionate and knowledgeable people who are truly dedicated to educating and supporting at a local, national, and global level. They have incredible literature and resources for those grieving or personally struggling, initiatives and programming (Take 5 to Save Lives, SMART Schools), as well as partnerships with other organizations and companies like Pura Vida to serve people of all walks of life. One of my favorite things is the new development with Facebook; users who see a post made by somebody who seems to be in distress or danger can help them by “reporting” the post and getting the individual help. It’s amazing to think about how many lives that alone could save.
SAVE has also recently extended and created charters all around the United States. The charters carry out SAVE’s mission in their own geographic areas, and respond to the unique needs of each community. I am so proud to be a member of SAVE’s first National Outreach Network charter, SAVE Central NY. I work with a passionate group of individuals who tirelessly devote their energy and put their hearts into educating and supporting the community, as well as working to save lives. One of our current focuses is getting into the schools to help connect with students through prevention, intervention, and postvention work- we are hoping to help implement Peer Leader programs in the schools in Central NY to help increase mental wellness and decrease suicide. I am so excited to see how the dialogue surrounding mental health continues to advance, as well as how magnificent organizations such as SAVE continue to influence millions of people, and work to SAVE lives.
To learn more visit:
www.SAVE.org and www.Take5ToSaveLives.org
Pura Vida donates $1 to SAVE for every Suicide Prevention Awareness bracelet purchased on our website. Get yours today.