Chief and editor of Keedie’s Corner, Keidra Ponder, had the pleasure of sitting with Stephanie Foreman who is a member of the SOTA (Student Occupational Therapy Association) to discuss this ongoing issue of suicide.The passion in her words and the fire in her eyes told me this lady meant business when it came to saving lives. She is a student at Daytona State College and is studying to be an Occupational Therapist Assistant who plans to heal the world from the inside out.Stephanie was introduced to this awareness group by one of her instructors, Mary Beth, who is over the OTA (Occupational Therapy Assistant) program. Carol Luby is the president over the suicide prevention program at Daytona State and is the Lady behind the rallying for awareness. Before joining the organization Stephanie met with Carol who is also a school counselor to discuss the sensitivity of suicide. She then became aware of the silent killer who is claiming more lives than society is acknowledging. I had the opportunity to get a deeper look into Stephanie’s passion and her reasoning behind wanting to help others.
- Have you ever dealt with depression or have had a family member who was depressed to the point of committing suicide?
I can’t say that any of my relatives have openly admitted to wanting to commit suicide but I have known people who have taken their lives due to depression. But I do know the effects of depression because of the bad situation I grew up in. I used the situation for motivation, yet my brother used our childhood as a reason for some of his bad decisions. He was depressed and didn’t know it until he was locked behind bars with more than enough time to think about why he made the choices he did.
Do you think women talk about depression openly more than men?
I think women talk about everything more openly than men. Which is why women have more outlets for help because they are willing to seek help faster than a man will. This does not mean women are not committing suicide, it just means men hold a lot of stress in and are more likely to commit suicide and will do it in a more violent way than a woman would. For women and men it’s important to talk about their feelings and thoughts of harming ones self.
How do you feel about depression, suicide and therapy within the African American community?
In school we learned about cultural differences when it comes to the use of medicine and different healing practices. In the African American community going to the doctor is almost somewhat of a last resort. We don’t go to the doctors until something is broke and barely hanging on. In the past African Americans where shunned by white America so on some levels there is some kind of distrust. It was not stressed how important it is to have regular doctor and dentist visits, so mental health evaluations were definitely swept under the rug. Africans Americans always have had a resilience to pain due to the things we have overcome as a people, yet sometimes it’s those feelings of pain that don’t reside and turn into depression. Even if African Americans aren’t open to talking to a doctor still talk to someone whether it be a pastor, teacher, friend, co-worker etc just speak up. Some African Americans think suicide is a “white” thing but depression affects everyone man, woman and child no matter the race or age.
Some things Stephanie enlightened me about were;
- In the state of Florida suicide rates is 3 to 5 to murder rate. So for every 3 murders there is 5 suicides.
- Depression is a clinical illness that goes unnoticed way too often because it’s a long term clinical illness that can’t necessarily be seen.
- Cries for help may be mere blatant statements like “I don’t want to be here”, “Life Sucks”, “I’m ready to go home”.
- People who commit suicide plan that act long before it actually followed out.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention;
- After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more mortality than any other cause of death.
- In 2013, someone in America died by suicide every 12.8 minutes
- 19.1% of these suicides were among individuals between 45 to 64 years old. 18.6% suicides occurred in the age group 85 years and older. While young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 made up 10.9% of the individuals who attempted suicide.
Some suicide risk factors include;
- Health Factors such as depression, PTSD, substance abuse, chronic pain, etc.
- Environmental Factors like being exposed to graphic images of suicide, harassment, unemployment, relationship problems, poverty and so forth.
- Historical Factors are things like family history of suicide and/or previous suicide attempts.
Risk of suicide can be observed in a person’s talk, behavior and/or mood. Some of the risk may be external while others are internal. Signs to be on the lookout for are;
- A persons that talks of having nothing to live for, feeling trapped and/ or being in unbearable pain
- A persons behavior becomes reckless and they are withdrawing from family and friends.
- A persons mood will change, you may notice a loss of interest in day to day living with signs of irritability and anxiety.
Jump to present day, as I sit with Stephanie and talk about her future plans, she informed me there is a suicide prevention walk called “Out of the Darkness Campus Walk” coming up on April 24th from 6pm till 8pm. This is a 5k walk which happens each spring at institutions around America. The walk that was held at the Daytona State campus last year raised over $10,000. The money was put into raising suicide awareness by starting different community outreach groups. This year some of the groups that will be in attendance will be Begin Again.They are the surviving family members of individuals who have committed suicide. Also participating in the walk will be the group 22toomany. There an organization for the families of soldiers who have lost their lives to suicide brought on by PTSD, depression, schizophrenia, and other mental health issues. The name of the organization is derived from the fact that nearly 22 soldiers die a day from suicide. The families of the fallen soldiers will send in pictures and the participants will wear them on their shirts in remembrance of lost ones. If you have a solider that has lost their lives due to suicide send their picture to 22 Too Many and one of the walkers will wear it on their shirt for remembrance.They are also looking for a few good participants to help during the walk, whether it’s being in the walk, working the booths or rest stops. Please come out and show your support. Lets stand in unity and heal each other. Click the links below for more information on the “Out of Darkness Camus Walk” and suicide prevention.
http://www.afsp.org/ – Link to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
http://afsp.donordrive.com/ – Link to inquire about the Out of Darkness Campus Walk
https://www.facebook.com/22TooMany – Link to the 22 Too Many group
When asked is there any words of wisdom or encouragement that Stephanie would leave the listeners with her response was, “I want the listeners to know that we all need each other. It’s always a way to get out of any situation that you may be in. If you or your friend is suffering for depression don’t let the feeling over come you, let it go. It’s our job to help people, not to just look for contentment within ourselves. We need to help one another because that’s what were here for”.
- If you are interested in bringing awareness to the cause or have any questions please contact Stephanie at 321-704-7290