Why I Advocate for Better Suicide Prevention Programs

molly_jenkins

Molly Jenkins
Mental Health Advocate

Today we continue our five part series on youth suicide prevention. Guest perspectives come from National Network of Depression Centers and Active Minds Inc., as well as personal stories from both a peer and family member. In today’s audio post, mental health advocate and suicide attempter Molly Jenkins shares why advocacy is so important in her life of wellness.

Why I Advocate for Better Suicide Prevention Programs

While a Junior in college, Molly Jenkins attempted suicide – twice. Her recovery began with attending and completing a six month partial hospitalization program in Chicago, IL. Upon returning to school she became a mental health advocate because she, “knew there were other people who, like me, were suffering in silence.”

In an audio interview, Ms. Jenkins shares where her inspiration for mental health advocacy comes from.

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Your Turn

  • What are you doing to get people talking about youth suicide prevention?
  • How can we get young adults, parents, school administrators and counseling centers talking matter-of-factly about campus suicide?

You Might Have Missed

Our five week series on Youth Suicide Prevention began with a post exploring risk factors and continued last week with suggestions from Active Minds Inc. on how to engage the campus community


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18 comments
StacyK
StacyK

Hello Craig! It's nice to see you. I really like that you brought up the importance of feeling safe in regard to public dialogue, especially about topics such as suicide prevention. I agree that in order to get the conversation started we must feel safe, and I'd like to add that I think it's important that we know we are valued. I know for myself that if I don't feel safe or valued it's unlikely that I will share anything deeper than superficial thoughts and feelings which may be just the status quo or what I think others want to hear or what society deems appropriate. If I feel safe and know that my opinion matters it's more likely that I will I be more genuine and authentic with the person I'm talking to. I really like your idea of a private social media format or form of chat for our youth to use to get the conversation started. Have you heard of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Crisis Chat? You can find it here: https://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx. It's a safe and confidential method of communicating for anyone going through a challenging time including those with suicidal thoughts. Your comments reminded me of the Lifeline Crisis Chat. Maybe this is a model that could be looked at for ideas in formulating a safe chat, blog, or place for youth to open up and talk about their thoughts, feelings and ideas pertaining to mental health including suicide prevention.

You also made such an important point, in regard to sucide prevention, when you talked about responsiblity and where that might lie. Wow. That is powerful. You definetly got my attention on this. I tend to believe or lean more towards the idea that sometimes a person may not know how sick they are and therefore may be unaware of their illness, may be in denial or may think that suicide is okay due to cultural beliefs and therefore might not have the capability of recognizing the signs that they may need help. Of course, this is just a thought. Where does the responsibility lie? Wow. Thank you Craig for your valuable insight. I know that this weekend I'll be thinking about this as well as the other important ideas and thoughts you shared.

Craig_P
Craig_P

Hello. Thank you for sharing Molly and everyone.

The best way (ONLY way) to increase a public dialog about such a personal subject as suicide is safety, to feel safe to even talk about it. So simple yet seemingly insurmountable at times. The person must feel safe to speak up about their issues. If you feel hopeless, you do NOT feel safe.

From parents to admin:

--- non-judgement is they key.

--- patience to listen. I know we're busy...

--- get involved in youth's lives. True, they can push you out. Maybe they need to test you. "Is it safe? Or, if I push back a bit will I get judged??? Why offer my major issues if my minor issues are scoffed at?

--- the youth does need to try hard to get help though. The final responsibility is theirs.

You can't be helped if we don't realize their are issues. Your signs might be missed.

---we need more affordable counseling/treatment. I have personal experience even with AHA. My treatment was cut short. My interdisciplinary care team and psychiatrist were "surprised" it was cur way short. From our government to our families, we have a ways to go to help people feel safe.

---we need some kind of well-made social media that is completely private. Kind of like a modern suicide prevention hotline we used to help with by the antiquated telephone. A chat room, or some careful way to get youth talking. To begin the conversation. Beginning is the hardest part. From there, they can have better tools to go from there.

---- #1. Is the stigma of depression, mental illness, and drug addiction.

It pains my heart how we can

look down upon people who

need the most help.

StephenBonin
StephenBonin

MOLLY, as we end this week, be sure to hug your Mother! She is happy to have you alive. We in this DBSA Advocacy Training are blessed to have her directing us. I am so glad you are alive, Molly. Furthermore, I am so glad for all the insights I have gained this week, adding to my each-day growing capacity to talk with people, enlighten people.


I just returned to Stacy's first link. As a result, I will order the film _Recognizing Teen Depression_, In addition, I learned about the Karla Smith Foundation.


SO MANY HELPFUL SITES I NEVER KNEW BEFORE THIS YEAR. . .Thank you, DBSA. 


Where are you, Annabelle and afish? I'm concerned.

StephenBonin
StephenBonin

A children's book by Scholastic, entitled _Mr. Lincoln's Way_, profiles an exemplary elementary school principal. The book with charming art, opens with him spending good quality time with all students--such as setting up his telescope next to the pond in back of school on special  nights and inviting kids and their families; co-operating the long jump rope, being Santa for the Christmas play, lighting the menorah for Chanukah, wearing a dashiki for Kwanzaa and a burnoose for Ramadan. After presenting those details, the author Patricia Polacco writes: "Mr. Lincoln was just plain cool!"


The term "cool" will suit people in different ways. With our community, he can't just be easy going. We expect him to handle harder cases to show his care.


Fortunately, Polacco allows him that opportunity by creating a miserable bully, Eugene. Mr. Lincoln observes Eugene sensitively, then strategically engages with the boy to build a relationship. Specifically, he connects with Eugene's enthusiasm for the birds in the new atrium. As their relationship furthered, Eugene improved in civility; however, as with us, there were setbacks.


Fact is, Eugene was mean because he had been treated meanly at home. Mr. Lincoln had to persevere in wisdom and kindness. A happy ending ensued.


Thinking about this story and our unit, I urge each of my colleagues to realize that if we are waving the flag of HOPE for youth with suicidal ideation, that we need to be alert to all people we encounter. Looking back on my lowest, suicidal time, I count the blessings of loved ones on the phone, and loved ones in my church circle who shared care. As with other consumers in the lowest place, it took time--months to years. I just wrote on my Mom's Mother's Day card, "Thank you for telling me: 'You WILL get through this.'" These memories cause me to try to, as I've stated once already this week, extend kindness with an animated face of joy to each individual on my path--even if the message is "Good Morning," or "Good Day".


Helping ourselves is helping others, one by one.

StephenBonin
StephenBonin

StacyK, Immediately upon doing my recen posts, which started off mentioning two people I am used to seeing, and hope to see their writings soon, I find your thoughts about lack of participation in CFYM. Thank you for using your site to invite people on over.

Also, another benefit of being in this unit, as I go about town communicating, my facial animation is more pronounced, and dedication to that person's enlivening is stronger.

We become aware that starting with the one we are with, if we'll just open our eyes, look into hers/ his, speak distinctly, focus on that person enthusiastically and intensely, we are doing a small part to keep suicidality under control.

StephenBonin
StephenBonin

Just read two posts by Stacy: "The Power of Two," and a narrative about being with her suicidal daughter in the hospital. A common theme of "together is better" links them. In the first, Stacy's two-year-old granddaughter asked her grandmother, "Are you okay?" The advanced sensitivity floored her! In the second, Stacy pledged to not give up on her daughter. Another theme to draw from them is "logic and joy of famiily love." Molly, you are thought of once again; your mother does a great job with us. Good can come out of painful.

StephenBonin
StephenBonin

afish and Annabelle, I hope to read your comments soon! This morning, I talked to two college students at church. They had come for weekday morning Mass, but were late. I was sitting outside ready to talk with people, and noticed they were leaving quickly, so I loudly called them to come back, learned their names as Carmello and Luis, and introduced myself. I commended them for coming to church at the end of the semester, now having more time, and felt glad that they were positively affected. I talked about our Youth Director and invited them to meet him; because they did not show interest in that, I moved on to sharing about my role as a Mental Health Advocate. I told them about the college organization in which the 1,100 backpack display is traveling to college campus. With my enthusiasm and eye contact, I engaged with them. I did advocacy.

StephenBonin
StephenBonin

"If I can inspire, if I can help one person along the way, then it's all worth it," Molly concludes. I ABSOLUTELY agree! Each day I begin as I was taught by my parents, in prayer. Then, throughout the day, I advance, singing hymns; I've been a volunteer music minister (singing and playing instruments for 40 years, having started at 13.)  I am confident of the Holy Spirit's guidance. I know, as Molly knows, that all I can do is my best.


My best these days is fueled by participation in this CFYM community, my DBSA group, as well as my spiritual community. This morning, being late to fulfill my Tuesday assignment in CFYM and not equipped to listen to Molly, I wanted to contribute something; therefore, I entered the comments portion and read StacyK's post.


And just as with every previous week since we began in January, I experienced joy learning about my colleague's brilliance! StacyK, thank you for sharing the two links, whereupon I read briefly. Oh, how I want the general public to learn the wellspring of intelligent, abundant  HOPE!


To think, I would not have learned about StacyK's dynamic writing if it hadn't been for Molly's beautiful, translucence! MOLLY, thank you for being yourself. We heard your poignant mourning of your friend, Dan. We heard a humble purposefulness when you talked about winning the battle. I am so glad you cofounded the chapter of the college organization, for I did fulfill my vow in this space last week. I shared the link with the appropriate administrator of our community college. 


Yes, each of us is a spark, igniting the other. As for another one of my efforts, just yesterday, I submitted the second draft of a two-sided business card, on one information about our DBSA group, on the other my contact information as a mental health advocate. I am drafting a letter. It might go to area teens' schools with my business card offering information how the caring school staff can send the youth home for a safer summer, and a summer in which the youth are more enlightened to look out for each other. It might go to pastors and youth ministers with my card. It might go to both. I'd be glad to visit in person with these leaders and communicate HOPE. However it turns out, probably by the beginning of next week, I will feel joy again, and continue in this process of reading and writing, singing prayers, and listening for inspiration for the next step. We who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Molly own, as she said, a precious "gift." As we take optimal care of ourselves, we can use our gifts optimally, in humility and trust.


One more step I will take: I will call a lady in her 70s who was at our DBSA group for the first time in a long time. She spoke a familiar message about loneliness, and suicidal ideation. I am going to share with her my ideas to help youth and solicit her feedback. Also, I will just try to build a phone friendship. Perhaps we will connect, and we will both benefit.  

kimgallen
kimgallen

In terms about what I am doing about getting people talking matter-of-factly about campus suicide, I am initiating dialogues with school counselors at our local high school to see what they are presently doing because I do not know. 

kimgallen
kimgallen

Molly, thank you. This inspired me quite a bit, particularly in listening to your comment stating "not to be afraid of the feelings that (you) have…" in reference to students having a solution by way of speaking about those feelings. In an earlier post, I noted that no level of education has particularly allowed me to fully grasp how to initiate a conversation like this. After listening to you, I can see that your story is one way that a student would indeed be inspired to talk about his/her feelings. It inspired me to grasp that maybe most of what I need to do is just listen so that a student can recognize that he or she is not alone with those feelings, so it does not have to be so scary. I really appreciate what you are doing. I also appreciate your courage and caring. I am very sorry to hear about your dear friend Dan. I also have lost friends and I certainly love them very much. I always will love them. Like you, I absolutely want to do all I can to listen to people and to inspire even one person to know that we all care about them very much. Thank you again for this important audiotape. I am really glad I listened to it. 

StacyK
StacyK

Thank you Molly for sharing your story. I'm so thankful to you for your advocacy efforts in the area of suicide prevention programs. You give a powerful voice to those who, as you shared, are "suffering in silence." I look forward to learning and hearing more about how you affect positive change! What a role model you are for all of us including my daughter as well. Again, thank you.

In regard to the question, "What are you doing to get people talking about youth suicide prevention?" after finding my daughter, at the age of 20, after a second suicide attempt and standing vigil at her bedside while she was in a coma and supporting her during her recovery, I rebounded by sharing our story in an effort to help others not feel alone, share resources, erase the stigma and bring awareness to youth suicide and advocate for change. I do this through a blog I created and author titled "Stacy's Flutterings" and that you can find here: http://stacysflutterings.wordpress.com. I like and share blog articles on Facebook just like this one about Molly Jenkins story. I also talk about youth suicide with anyone who will listen like my classmates and professors in a counseling program that I was a part of at McKendree University. I also have participated in a documentary about mental illness called "Spotlight on Erasing the Stigma." You can find it here: http://stacysflutterings.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/spotlight-on-erasing-the-stigma-st-louis-micds-documentary-living-with-mental-illness/. I write articles about mental illness and suicide prevention, and I've written a memoir. I volunteer as well for several reasons but one reason in particular is that I like to give back to organizations that are fighting the good fight so to speak in regard to raising awareness and advocating for positive change in the realm of mental illness. It also gives me yet another avenue in which to speak out about suicide prevention. I'd like to get more involved in public speaking, and I look forward to developing new ways in which to raise awareness about suicide prevention. I even talk to my personal care providers about mental illness and suicide prevention. I am an open book with a purpose. It's not about me. It's about stepping outside of my comfort zone in an effort to help others and to raise awareness. I invite you, if you are reading this comment, to step outside of your comfort zone and to share a little about your story and how you raise awareness about youth suicide prevention or any ideas that you might have regarding how to. We need you!

Craig_P
Craig_P

Thanks for the comments Stacy! Glad to see there are already chat rooms too.

Yes, I do need to elaborate about our shared responsibilities regarding such a dynamic issue.

You are exactly right, many severely depressed people either don't know or don't care in order to take positive actions to help themselves. Therefore, It is a community responsibility, shared both legally and morally, with the person to fight for their severely hurting soul's life. Reporting is just the first public step though.

I guess I spoke more from a patient advocate perspective, but Suicide is one of those health issues that is hard to separate personal and societal responsibilities. Examples: A person has the right to refuse treatment ...but not if they are a threat to themselves.

A person has the right to leave the psychiatric hospital... But not if the treatment is court ordered and the doctor disagrees with discharge.

So responsibility truly is shared.

StacyK
StacyK

Stephen, I'm glad you've read some of my blog posts. I'm glad to be working with you! You add so much to the conversation here on the CFYM blog. You are such a valuable team member. Your comments get me thinking about the topics each week at a deeper level. I like how you noted that good can come from pain. I sure agree. I'm also so glad that you brought to the forefront the fact that I won't give up on my daughter. It's so true, and important in her recovery to know this. It gets to the heart of support I think. Thanks again Stephen!

StacyK
StacyK

Kimgallen, I like your honesty about not knowing what the school counselors at your local high school are doing in regard to talking about youth suicide on campus. I also like so much your approach to find out more! Initiating a conversation with the school counselors is a great step towards understanding where to even begin. Thank you Kimgallen!

StephenBonin
StephenBonin

@kimgallen COOL! KimGAllen, you and I have the same idea about initiating dialogues with school counselors! Regarding your affirmation of Molly, you helped me store in my soul and memory the tenderness of Molly's voice, the respect she received in speaking slowly and calmly. Sometimes in our DBSA group we carry on at a faster, louder pace/ tone, and I long for that of Molly's . You did a great job thoroughly affirming Molly. Thank you!

StephenBonin
StephenBonin

@StacyK Having read the top page of your Blog, I long for more time to read entries. I love the poem by your daughter. I relish your treasuring of your children. Congratulations, StacylK, on being nominated for an award!

StacyK
StacyK

Thank you Stephen! Kim loves to write poetry and song lyrics. She'll be so glad to hear your wonderful compliment! Actually, when her illness unraveled she wrote less and less so I'm thankful and so happy that she writes once again! Thanks Stephen!

StephenBonin
StephenBonin

@StacyK Also, I am eager to view and listen to the documentary, You've been doing much!