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Does it Help if People Know About Suicide?

A unique, one-of-a-kind social service agency needs your help. It truly can make a difference between someone living and dying.

"Some men see things as they are and ask why...I dream things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

My mom took her life in 1979. In 1982 I attended a suicide conference in Texas and visited a Suicide Prevention Center located in a horrible crime-infested part of the city.  The  wrap-around-porch on this beautiful, old building was protected by bullet proof glass  The residents of that neighborhood were very protective of the center.  The hotline volunteers who answered the calls from desperate people, sat at desks on that porch.  I knew right then and there that one day, somehow, our area would have such a center.

Through a great deal of hard work by a good many people, and, with a bit of luck, such a center exists in Batavia, IL.  Suicide Prevention Services of America incorporated, officially, on May 29, 1998 but had been in the works for several years before that.  SPS is a full service suicide prevention center.  We offer:

  • walk-in crisis counseling
  • depression screenings
  • education in the schools
  • a hotline staffed by well trained volunteers (also part of the national suicide prevention hotline)
  • support groups (for those who have lost a loved one to suicide and for those who have attempted suicide but lived)

SPS is funded by United Ways, Community Chests, and Mental Health Boards.  We are also funded by grants, fundraisers, donations , and insurance. We are, for the third time in 14 years, facing a shut down to either three or four days a week until money begins to filter in from our upcoming September Walk. We are at a bare bones staff; no one, including me as the executive director, makes a large salary. There is no retirement or pension. We are all here because of our desire to prevent a death by suicide.  We have all lost someone we love to suicide.  

Every single day, someone walks through our front door asking for help.  Like many other agencies, we would like them to have an appointment; unlike many other agencies, we turn no one away nor do we have a waiting list. We always have at least one clinician here for just that reason. Imagine, for a minute, being so desperate for help, feeling the ambivalence between life and death, that you walk into a place where you have never been before. This place has the word "suicide" in it's name. Suicide Prevention Services. Can they really help? This is my last chance...

If you are a survivor of a loved one's death by suicide, you probably wish that you had known about this service for them.  If you have ever walked through our front door or if you have ever felt so alone and scared and filled with pain that you wanted to die, then you know what I am saying.  

The staff is creative enough and committed enough to continue to keep the doors open; however, by working only three or four days a week, their paychecks, once again, go down. The three top clinicians, myself, the director of Clinical Services, and the suicide prevention specialist have been with SPS since the founding.  We are suicidologists. We are trained in the field of suicidology.Any one of us would be a prime catch for another agency and/or a school. Our heart is here. Every single staff person has been an intern here. 

There are a lot of social service agencies struggling with this economy as it is.  Some will read this and declare that their agency "does exactly what SPS does" but this is not true. A one size fits all social service agency is a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none.  SPS focuses on one thing: the prevention of suicide. We are a mental health agency that understands depression and other mental illnesses that are a foundation for suicide. We work with the crisis and then, often, refer to our agencies or partner with another agency.  For example, is domestic violence is involved, we would link with Mutual Ground in Aurora.

No matter what county you live in, I guarantee that SPS has helped someone from your county.

I am asking you to visit our website www.spsamerica.org and see what we do.  If you are able to donate, there's a button to do so, and I thank you in advance. (You can also click here to donate.)

If you have ideas for fundraising or can help with our Walk or other special events, please let us know.  Right now, we need money to enable us to continue to help those who are desperate.

The word "suicide" is, sometimes, still whispered. When I dreamt of an agency like Suicide Prevention Services, someone told me that to have "the 's' word in the name could put people off." I hope you will accept my reply as not flippant or hurtful when I looked this person in the eye and said, "I would rather put someone off than have someone off themselves because the name of our agency wasn't clear and they weren't able to come for help."

Suicide: It's a word. People die by suicide. 

"... I continue to dream and ask, 'Why not?'"

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Scott C. July 17, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Great article. And timely. I found it interesting that there were multiple articles recently about the untimely death of a young, apparently much beloved DGN coach and when those of us who didn't know him or anything of the circumstances around his death asked about them were almost chastised for doing so. When another commenter factually acknowledged that his life ended apparently as a result of suicide (and provided a link to a related article), someone actually asked why that comment wasn't removed. Of course, I recognize the importance of respecting privacy, family wishes, etc. (although noted that there was no mention of cause of death being kept private, etc. - so nobody knew if there were sensitivities or just sloppy reporting). I also recognize that a repeatedly publicized passing of a young and important person will inevitably invite questions about the cause of death. It seems that efforts to hide the fact or chastise others for asking simple questions only adds to an unnecessary and unfortunate stigma.
Megghun Redmon July 23, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Ms. Weber, I will continue to support SPS, I know the importance of this agency and can see the dedication the staff has. Please continue to update us on the status of the agency and how we can help. : )
Kathleen Bernaden September 09, 2012 at 02:31 AM
My 19 yr old son died by his own hand. I don't think he did it because he heard someone talking about it. It seems to me that if a celebrity commits suicide it is all over the news-yet I have read that the news industry will not write about the suicide of a less known person. In Kenosha WI 5 high schoolers committed suicide at the same highschool during the same year. Maybe if the papers had reported on it the parents would have known what was going on at that school. Kathleen
Jim McMahon September 09, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Great advice, sorry for you loss.
Karen Chadra September 09, 2012 at 04:09 AM
Thank you for your insight, Kathleen. I'm so very sorry about your son.

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