Rates of suicide continue to rise across the demographic spectrum and certainly among school-age youth. For years, suicide and mental health issues were subjects to be avoided, hidden behind a veil of stigma or fear. Now, hopefully we know differently. But in our conversations, are we really hearing what students have to say about anxiety, depression, mental health or the pain their friends and peers are feeling. What do they want from teachers, parents and the others in their lives?
As part of the national Well Beings Tour, Detroit Public TV is teaming with Kevin’s Song and other local organizations to create a virtual conversation addressing their vital, often life-saving issues. We will listen to a diverse group of students who will talk about their lives, their feelings and their concerns. And we will respond.
The premature death of a parent can be devastating for young children- with the consequences far more profound when the parent dies by suicide. Amidst the resulting grief, turmoil and confusion, the surviving parent is faced with the monumental task of tending to the emotional lives of the children left behind. In this instructive and impassioned work, longtime children’s bereavement counselor and psychotherapist Margo Requarth, M.A., M.F.T., charts the complex emotional waters every family must navigate in the wake of a previously unimaginable suicide death. Starting with the haunting tale of her own mother’s suicide, Requarth weaves together her experience counseling “survivors,” poignant interviews with children, teens and parents, and the latest research on suicide and its aftermath. What emerges is a groundbreaking “how-to” guide for parent survivors: how to manage both the immediate and long-term implications of the suicide, how to talk to your children, how to see them through the heart-rending anguish to a place of acceptance, healing, and finally, a renewed and deepened capacity for joy.
Undaunted by the virus, this year’s Kevin’s Song Conference on Suicide was an unqualified success; with record attendance, enthusiastic participation (via chat) and a new component- Facebook Live- that added incrementally to Saturday’s participation. The results were significant on several counts and many took time to add their comments:
“The State of Michigan should be thankful that you are here, and I believe that that even in this time of global pandemic and terrible economic concerns your work is saving lives”.
“I watched the live broadcast on Saturday and thought the panelists were impactful and courageous in sharing their personal pain and journey to healing.”
“I wanted share what a remarkable Conference this is. I searched the country for a suicide conference that was racially and ethnically inclusive and covered the experiences of diverse communities. This really impacts and motivates my work as a suicidologist more than you know. Thank you”
Thanks to our sponsors, to Detroit Public Television who produced a flawless virtual broadcast, and to the public relations firm of Marx Lane who helped spread the word so effectively throughout the State. Vision accomplished!
Sojourner Jones, Law Enforcement Liaison with the Detroit Wayne Integrated Network was the recipient of this year’s Kevin’s Song Life Saver Award presented by Kevin’s Song co-founder Gail Urso. Ms. Jones has been working in the field of mental health for over twenty-five years and was recognized for her outstanding service in addressing the mental health issues of those who come to the attention of the justice system. In addition, she trains the Detroit Police Department and surrounding first responders in de-escalation techniques for those in crisis who may be experiencing mental illness. Her position was created exclusively for her in recognition of her passion and unusual skill set. Congratulations!
The closing event at this year’s Kevin’s Song Conference was a powerful Facebook Live discussion moderated by Barb Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) founder of the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network and co-chair of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Postvention Suicide Recommendation Committee. Four suicide loss survivors shared their stories, struggles and how they eventually found purpose for their pain. Support groups exist throughout Michigan and meet frequently. During the covid-19 crisis they meet both in-person and virtually. There are three ways to locate a group in your area. Call 211; Text the Crisis Line @ 741741; or click here for Suicidology.org.
To view this compelling 90-minute program Watch Here
Dr. Brian Ahmedani and Nancy Buyle, Co-Chairs of the Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission and members of the With One Voice Advisory Board updated Kevin’s Song Conference attendees on the Commission’s progress to date, including focus group findings, the timetable for presenting recommendations to the full Commission in March, and work to date by the four sub-committees: Policy… Data… Special Populations… and the Work Force.
If you’d like to follow the work of the Commission, it meets on the third Friday of every month at 10:30 AM. Or, you can contact James Bell at email@example.com.
Watch the March 24, 2021 virtual meeting:
Our Newsletter is published and emailed monthly to our growing list of sponsors, supporters and friends. If you’d like to be added to our email list, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If we hope to achieve our vision of “a world without suicide” we need you with us.
“We Need to Talk” is a 30-minute film produced by Kevin’s Song and funded by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Klingler Family Foundation. The film documents effective suicide prevention initiatives being used in schools and communities. Profiled in this video are the Prepare-U curriculum at West Bloomfield High School, The U-Matter teen program developed by Rabi Yarden Blumstein for Friendship Circle, the University of Michigan’s Peer-To-Peer school outreach program and The SHED, an after-school facility for youth recently opened by Dennis Liegghio, founder of Know Resolve.View Video
Conceived by Kevin’s Song and sponsored by the Children’s Foundation, this 3-part series was produced in partnership with Detroit Public Television. Hosted by prominent Michigan journalist, Cynthia Canty each 60-minute program includes interviews with mental health professionals, educators and community leaders and covers topics ranging from the impact of social media on youth to building resilience to successful intervention strategies.View Programs
“Singing Kevin’s Song” Interviews with a high school counsellor, a former collegiate athlete, a researcher, and the parents of a high school student lost to suicide reveal their personal and painful insights into dealing with the suicide epidemic. Produced by James McGovern. (28 minutes)
“Death is Not the Answer”. Award winning producer-director Keith Famie tackles the tough issues of understanding depression and mental illness. (58 minutes).
“The S Word”. The stigma that so often prevents honest discussion, and often times death, is the subject of this compelling documentary by Lisa Klein. (98 minutes)
“Life After Suicide”- Dr. Jennifer Ashton. Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ Chief Medical Correspondent, draws from her own tragic experience to explore the aftermath of suicide and sudden loss, and, like her new book “Life After Suicide,” the podcast offers a six-part roadmap for survivors.