KQK's fund-raising page for the Samaritans 5K
This will be my fourth year running the Samaritans 5K Run/Walk for suicide prevention. Samaritans focuses a lot of their work on the support of suicide survivors (the close loved ones of people who died by suicide). But, in addition, they provide a 24/7/365 hotline for people struggling with suicidal thoughts and distressing situations. They also support the nationwide Crisis Text Line, which is an invaluable resource. Because all of the Samaritans’ services are free, they have to raise money, which is what I’m doing here.
Each year, I take this opportunity to speak about the work I’m doing in the area for suicide prevention. A few years ago, I returned to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in mental health counseling, with a goal of working with people with mental illness. While in school, I served as a graduate research assistant on a suicide prevention research team, which gave me the opportunity to work on several projects related to better understanding risk and protective factors of suicide to make prevention efforts easier and more accessible. I presented our work at conferences and I connected with colleagues who have become friends, who are dedicated to a mission of suicide prevention, de-stigmatization of mental illness, and share a love of helpfulness. I also spent my internship year working at an adult day health program, with a large geriatric population. The clients at this site had severe mental illness diagnoses, many lived in group homes, and most had complicated medical needs, making them a highly vulnerable and at-risk population within the mental health community.
Since graduation I’ve worn many hats. I served as a crisis clinician for Boston’s south shore area, in which I worked directly on solution-focused care for individuals with distressing and active suicidal ideation and behaviors. The diversity of the clients I worked with demonstrated how mental illness can touch every type of person with a variety of life circumstance and experience. I also served as a clinician at the Guild for Human Services, which is a residential school, located in Concord, MA, for children and adolescents with autism and intellectual disabilities. As a counselor, I worked with student to challenge their depressive and anxiety-provoking symptoms, ease concrete thought processing, and reduce non-suicidal self-injury & suicidal ideation, as well as the distress from these actions and thoughts. Today I’m working in an outpatient clinic where individuals have much less direct support, but who may experience a reality of suicidal thinking can be overwhelming, upsetting, and isolating in their daily life; managing their own skill set with resources available is the key to wellness.
While my work in the mental health field has influenced my support of the Samaritans, it goes much deeper than that. As many of you know, I deal with my own mental health struggles. I spend a lot of energy on self-care. That includes meditating, taking a vitamin, eating healthfully, exercising, spending time in nature, reading, seeing a therapist, trying to get enough sleep, working hard at my job, needlepointing, and spending time with my friends and loved ones. I still do chores, binge-watch TV, and eat junk food, of course, but I try to limit the stress that this puts on my body and on my life.
Above all, exercising is the most helpful technique for me to manage my mental health. Besides providing structure to my day and helping me feel good about taking care of my physical body, the energy I expend on running and swimming go miles towards helping me maintain a balanced mental focus. I believe that raising money for the Samaritans is a part of my self-care and mental well-being because I'm raising awareness for a cause that supports people like me, including people who may not have the means, access, or awareness to care for their mental well-being in this way. Raising money for a cause that matters to me is motivating and purposeful. Therefore, again, I'll be utilizing my training for the 5K as a way to rekindle my health habits which help maintain mental health wellness.
Please consider donating to the Samaritans under my fundraising page. Last year I raised over a $1000 with your help and it was a great team effort.
Thank you, in advance, for helping me reach my fundraising goal!
Resources about suicide and mental health that have influenced me:
(to view a website, cut and paste the links below)
Books and Memoirs:
Jamison, K. R. (1995). An Unquiet Mind: A memoir of moods and madness. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
Joiner, T. E. (2005). Why People Die by Suicide. Harvard University Press.
Schiller, L., & Bennett, A. (1996). The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.
Solomon, A. (2002). The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Audio.
Social Work Podcast: http://socialworkpodcast.blogspot.com/
Live Through This: http://livethroughthis.org/
SPSM Chat (Suicide Prevention Social Media): http://spsmchat.com/
Eleanor Longden’s TED Talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/eleanor_longden_the_voices_in_my_head
Britton, P. C., Patrick, H., Wenzel, A., & Williams, G. C. (2011). Integrating Motivational Interviewing and Self-Determination Theory With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Prevent Suicide. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 18(1), 16–27. doi:10.1016/j.cbpra.2009.06.004
DeCou, C. R., Skewes, M. C., López, E. D. S., & Skanis, M. L. (2013). The benefits of discussing suicide with Alaska native college students: qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 19(1), 67–75. doi:10.1037/a0030566
Goodman, S. H., Cooley, E. L., Sewell, D. R., & Leavitt, N. (1994). Locus of control and self-esteem in depressed, low-income African-American women. Community Mental Health Journal, 30(3), 259–269. doi:10.1007/BF02188886
Holden, K. B., Bradford, L. D., Hall, S. P., & Belton, A. S. (2013). Prevalence and correlates of depressive symptoms and resiliency among African American women in a community-based primary health care center. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 24(4 Suppl), 79–93. doi:10.1353/hpu.2014.0012
Joe, S., Baser, R. E., Breeden, G., Neighbors, H. W., & Jackson, J. S. (2006). Prevalence of and risk factors for lifetime suicide attempts among blacks in the United States. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 296(17), 2112–23. doi:10.1001/jama.296.17.2112
Preston, S. D., & de Waal, F. B. M. (2002). Empathy: Its ultimate and proximate bases. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25, 1–72.
Singer, J. B., & Erreger, S. (2015). Let’s talk about suicide: #LanguageMatters. New Social Worker. Retrieved from http://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/lets-talk-about-suicide-languagematters/.
Vannoy, S. D., & Robins, L. S. (2011). Suicide-related discussions with depressed primary care patients in the USA: gender and quality gaps. A mixed methods analysis. BMJ Open, 1(2), e000198. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000198
Here’s a link to some of my published work from graduate school:
I leave you with a Facebook post from September 2016 in which I explain why everyone should care about suicide prevention:
If you care about access to #healthcare, you care about suicide prevention because it is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. If you care about #guncontrol, you care about suicide prevention because firearms account for more of those deaths than any other means. If you care about #womenshealth, you care about suicide prevention because females attempt to kill themselves three times more often than males. And if you care about a #whiteguy in your life, you care about suicide prevention because they are at highest risk for dying by suicide. #suicideprevention #suicide #spsm #nodebateneeded #BeCause
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