National Suicide Prevention Week

31 Aug

Two years ago, on a sunny August afternoon, I was leaving a LLL meeting and got a call from my cousin Brian’s girlfriend, Jessica.  It was an unexpected call I was not prepared to handle.  It was a call about which every detail has been etched into my memory.  That call would forever alter my personal path here on Earth and the paths of many of my family and close friends.

Jessica called to tell me that Brian, my cousin and close friend, had taken his own life.  In the moment, I was completely stunned.  All of the breath was knocked out of me by some unknown force.  Miley Cyrus’ “It’s a Party in the USA” was playing in my car, oddly enough.  That song will forever remind me of that fateful moment in time.

Before Brian’s death, I didn’t know much about suicide and I didn’t know anyone personally who had made that choice.  Depression runs deeply through the veins of my family and so I had been through attempts with various family members, which in themselves were agonizing.  It’s an entirely different agony when someone you love actually completes suicide.

Brian’s death propelled Jessica (and I in her wake) to do something about suicide prevention.  She started attending Survivor of Suicide (SOS) groups on a regular basis.  She gathered the family together to walk in November at the annual SOS event.  She created The Jack Eight Remembrance Fund (  She orchestrates a benefit fundraiser for different charities each year which promote healing for those who are left behind in the event of suicide, “survivors” we are termed.

September 4th through 10th is Annual National Suicide Prevention Week.  It’s hosted each year by the American Association of Suicidology (   I find the statistics on suicide to be staggering.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2007, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.  There were 34,598 deaths by suicide reported that year, which means the overall rate was approximately 11 deaths per 100,000 people.  It is estimated that 11 attempts occur for every death by suicide.  (It’s ridiculous that the most current statistics are as old as 2007!)

The National Institute of Mental Health has a comprehensive list of whom to call, what to do, and how to prevent suicide:

We also have a great list of resources posted on the Jack Eight Remembrance Fund website:

This November, we will be hosting the 2nd Annual Jack 8 Poker/Bingo Tournament to benefit the Alliance of Hope:  More details to come.  Right now, we are seeking donations for the silent auction.  If you have something you’d like to donate, please send an e-mail to


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