by Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson
Every life ended by suicide was unique. And so is the impact of suicide on loved ones—the “survivors” who sometimes are left to wonder why, and always what they could have done.
The activists among us may be particularly vulnerable; their fervor is part of what we love about them—that inspiring selflessness, clarity of passion, and their willingness to sacrifice personal comfort for a greater cause. For them, and us, to carry on the fight, we must all do more to encourage self-care within our ranks.
Self-care is also personal—it can be deep meditation or strenuous exercise; yoga or dance; being together or quietly alone—whatever provides a rejuvenating break from the depression, anxiety, anger, or confrontations which are the mountains and valleys of the mental landscape in social and environmental justice circles.
It requires courage to talk about suicide with friends and colleagues; but talking about it does not make it more likely—it means the person knows somebody cares deeply. Fortunately, the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health crises is decreasing. And in our community, there are people and places who want to, and are able to help—but only if we reach out.
Mental Health First Aid takes the fear and hesitation out of initiating conversations about mental health and substance use. Thousands of people have taken the class in Alachua County, and you should too. To register yourself or organize a group training, contact Maddie_Adkins@mbhci.org.
The Alachua County Crisis Center offers around-the-clock crisis and suicide intervention with phone counseling by trained volunteers. They also field Care Teams for traumatic episodes and provide support to sexual assault survivors. Call anytime: 352-264-6789.
Gainesville Peer Respite is a support community that offers alternatives to psychiatric hospitalization in a non-clinical home-like environment. With an inclusive perspective on how individuals can seek wellness, at GPR we help transform experiences of distress into opportunities for learning and life enhancement. Learn more at www.GainesvilleRespite.org.
Co-Responder Teams consist of two partners: a police officer with Crisis Intervention Training and a licensed Mental Health Clinician. They respond to calls involving persons in a potential mental health crisis or emotionally charged situation, and work to minimize contact with the criminal justice system. Dial 9-1-1, and ask for “the Mental Health Squad” or “Co-Responders.”
Meridian Behavioral’s Crisis Services offers a full emergency staff who perform evaluations and crisis intervention for adults and children 24/7/365. They can address the needs of those facing an acute episode of psychiatric illness or substance use disorder. Learn more at https://www.mbhci.org.
Survivors of Suicide are people impacted by the suicide death of a loved one. Services include the “SOS” group and individual counseling. The group meets the second Wednesday of each month from 7:15 to 9:15pm. Services are delivered by professional staff, volunteers and a number of survivors. Anybody who has been touched by suicide is invited to attend as often as they wish. Call 352-264-6782 for information.