Above Ground Podcast #188: Lose Yourself

Suicide is devastating. The aftermath often pulls apart loved ones and their communities. Loss gives way to grief, guilt, and even shame. Time can help you heal, but if you are not mindful, you can lose yourself. 

This week, Above Ground Podcast speaks with Donna Thomas. Donna, along with her husband Bobby and daughter Shannon, are the founders of James’s Warriors. James’s Warriors is a nonprofit organization that provides resources and education to change the way mental health is perceived in the public, and to reduce the stigma surrounding and preventing suicide. 

“You don’t just lose a child, you lose the future,” says Donna Thomas. Donna speaks candidly about the loss of her son James. Her approach is authentic and heartfelt. She and her team speak to schools all over New York State. She provides a sense of peace and a mother’s love. 

During her presentations she is raw and real. Donna shares the real story with her student listeners. Her students are presented with a coping kit that contains helpful items to allow for a break, knowing that we need comfort. “No one wants to think their child will die by suicide,” expresses Donna. There is a disconnect between people who do not understand why someone chooses suicide. In those individuals who choose suicide, there is a pain that won’t end and our only want that pain to end. 

Some facts about suicide. There is a death by suicide every 11 minutes. From the years 2000-2017, there was a 41% increase in suicide rates for ages 15-25, and suicide was the 3rd leading cause of death for this age group. According to the CDC, more than 90% of people who attempt and survive never go on to die by suicide, however. These stats are from the CDC, AFSP, and OMH of NY. 

If you are interested in learning more about suicide prevention and volunteering please check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and their Talk Saves Lives and More Than Sad programs. Please go to the Suicide Prevention Center of NY State to find tools, resources and information to support the effort. 

If you are in a crisis please dial or text 988. For TTY users dial 711 then 988. Dial 1-888-628-9454 for our Spanish speaking friends. Vets text 838255. 

We thank Donna and all our guests past and future. Thanks so much for listening this week, and please check in every Wednesday for a new episode. Until next week get well, be safe, stay ABOVE.

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