Mental Health Advocate Launches Suicide Prevention Campaign While In- flight

AJ French, CRSS
Executive Director of Sacred Creations

Anyone can start an awareness campaign. All it requires is passion and a willingness to speak out. AJ French is a mental health advocate who demonstrates that a little tenacity and the courage to speak up has the power to change lives.

The Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance recently sent out an email saying that this is “a time to encourage people to add the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255) number into the contact list on their phone. You never know when you will want to share it with someone who is struggling.” I was thinking about this on United Airlines Flight 4628 to New Jersey and asked the flight attendant if I could have one minute to make an announcement about the Suicide Prevention LIFELINE. She said yes and I made the announcement!

Many people took time to thank me as they exited the plane. I was especially touched by one young woman who had a small baby in her arms. With tears in her eyes she profusely thanked me and said she was a survivor of suicide, but now she had a baby to live for and she was so grateful I had shared this number with her. The next day at the DBSA New Jersey Conference, President Allen Doederlein said that no amount of money, or fame or award exempts people from pain. My mind immediately raced back to the young woman with her baby. Even a baby which brings a tremendous amount of joy, does not exempt us from other kinds of pain. As I write this article, tears are streaming down my face because I know that the public service announcement made on that plane literally has given this young woman a lifeline.

A campaign is launched
I wasn’t planning to launch a Suicide Prevention campaign when I attended the DBSA National Chapter Leadership Forum, but that’s exactly what happened as I quickly revised and began to rehearse my ten minute remarks. This event would be live-streamed and how could I not share this idea with the entire world? Seldom in our lives do we have opportunity to make minimal investments that maximize optimal outcomes and right now we have a chance to do this. We need to do this. Suicide is a public health epidemic deserving of a proportional response and we need to address it as such. Anytime I catch myself saying “we need to” I am reminded that “I need to.” I hope many people who are reading this find themselves agreeing in heart and are compelled to action.

Wednesday, September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. We are asking for all modes of public transportation to announce the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) for passengers on this day. Planes are encouraged to make the announcement on every flight. Trains and buses are encouraged to make the announcement once per hour. We strongly urge the Department of Transportation to adopt a “not on my watch” approach regarding suicide fatalities. Announcing the Suicide Prevention Lifeline on World Suicide Prevention Day will save lives.

One voice can change a life
Individuals can generate momentum for this life-saving campaign just by talking about it. Keep in mind that people are supportive of something that can save lives. If you participate in mental health services or a support group, ask the group to brainstorm what you might do in your local community. If you have lost someone to suicide, or if you are like me and have thoughts of suicide nearly every day of your life, make sure that you express “this is important to me” and say why. Individuals and organizations can advocate on a local, state or national level by writing letters to transportation authorities. The most important thing to remember is that we have a voice and lives are saved when we exercise our righteous voice. Everyone reading this has opportunity to save lives. Notice it’s in plural. We don’t know how many lives will be saved, but we do know that LIVES WILL BE SAVED!

Questions

  • How will you generate awareness around resources that help prevent suicide?
  • What is your group or organization planning to commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day?

Facebook Comments

6 comments
anti fatigue mats
anti fatigue mats

if suicide is something that they are considering. Thankfully, the answer thus far has been "no" when I make inquiry, yet I still provide resources through social media and any other avenue that individuals may review.

aagallagher
aagallagher

as a person who thinks about the option of suicide frequentlly for low these many years, i can say i would definitely answer "no".  i wouldn't want anything to come between me and my planned way out.  my horses kept me alive for many years, but the doctors say i shouldn't handle them anymore.  the love of my life, who i met a mere six years ago, does a pretty good job,; however, i can telll when he is overwhelmed by my darkness.  it's a battle and those who are fighting it need to know they are connected if they chose to do so.  the connection that seems to be getting the response in our more rural communities is the reaching out that is done locally .... face-to-name stuff.

kimgallen
kimgallen

@aagallagher I see. I am glad you offered me more insight into things. I am adding a virtual office option onto what I do as a counselor, specifically to do outreach in real time into rural areas. I know it is not the same as having someone face-to-face, but I want to have options available for people. I love horses, too. I hope you are able to just talk to them and feed them(?) 


aagallagher
aagallagher

@kimgallen @aagallagher nope, living in town now :-( .  i am interested to to see how the tele-support works for the people i have had the opportunity to serve.  so far they are not comfortable with it yet.  be well.

kimgallen
kimgallen

I first want to appreciate the actions that you are taking due to its vital importance and your courage in so doing. Second, in answer to your question regarding generating awareness, I am opting to asking people who exhibit stress and the behaviors that accompany great stress, if suicide is something that they are considering. Thankfully, the answer thus far has been "no" when I make inquiry, yet I still provide resources through social media and any other avenue that individuals may review. 

aagallagher
aagallagher

good morning .... i happen to be presenting a QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training on 9/10 to a group of Staff who work with at-risk folks dealing with poverty and abuse issues.  like the author of this article, i think seriously about suicide regularly and have since i was six years old.  i am now 64.  sometimes the urges are stronger than others, but it's always there just under the facade of daily living. national hotlines are definitely a positive outreach.  however, local supports need to be encouraged in schools, agencies, among caregivers, providers, etc.  after spending this many years with my own battle and working with others, i recognize the need to look at suicide cross-culturally.  this means that every individual's triggers and affective supports can be very different.