Can CBD help reduce or prevent suicide and suicide attempts?

There are rate differences, depending on specific demographic characteristics, when it comes to suicide and suicide attempts. 

Nonetheless, suicide occurs in all demographic groups, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, and race.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), in the United States alone, there are 129 suicides per day on average (1).

Even kids attempt suicide. Based on the Youth Risk Behaviors Survey in 2017, 7.4% of young adults in grades 9-12 reported they attempted to commit suicide at least once in the past 12 months.

Suicide risk factors are characteristics of an individual or his or her environment that increase the likelihood of dying by suicide.

 The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) says these risk factors include: (2) 

  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Mental disorders, such as depression and mood disorders
  • Chronic disease and disability
  • Abuse or misuse of alcohol or other drugs
  • Lack of access to behavioral health care
  • Social isolation

Going through trauma may increase a person’s suicide risk. For instance, there is evidence that childhood abuse and sexual trauma may increase a person’s suicide risk (3). 

Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that, while the link between suicide and mental disorders is well-established, the most influential risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt (4).

Suicide and Mental Disorders: How CBD Can Help 

Previous studies published in the journal Depression and Anxiety suggested a link between anxiety disorders and suicide attempts (5).

Meanwhile, CBD has been shown to possess therapeutic benefits that help reduce anxiety.

Results of a 2015 review conclusively demonstrated CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors linked to multiple disorders (6). 

These disorders include panic disorder (PD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The lead author of the study added that the results were supported by human experimental findings, which also suggested CBD’s minimal sedative effects and excellent safety profile.

Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another well-known compound of the cannabis plant, CBD (cannabidiol), is non-addictive and does not get users high, making it an appealing option for most people dealing with anxiety.

However, the results could not confirm that treatment with CBD would have comparable effects for those with chronic anxiety. 

Further tests are needed to determine the impact of prolonged CBD use on individuals. 

Some studies link suicide risk in those with PTSD to distressing trauma memories, anger, and poor control of impulses. 

Suicide risk is high for those with PTSD who cope with stress without expressing feelings, says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (7).

CBD, meanwhile, has been shown to be useful when dealing with PTSD and its symptoms.

A case report in The Permanente Journal noted the effectiveness of CBD oil for anxiety and insomnia as part of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (8). 

A 2018 study published in the Frontiers in Immunology Journal demonstrated that CBD might help reduce depression linked to stress (9).

A study published in CNS and Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets suggested that CBD possessed great psychiatric potential, including uses as an anxiolytic-like and an antidepressant-like compound (10).

Schizophrenia may cause or be associated with suicide, suicide attempts, or thoughts of suicide (11).

Interestingly, a case report on the use of CBD, published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, showed that the daily administration of CBD to a patient with schizophrenia resulted in the improvement of acute psychotic symptoms (12). 

Another study on the antipsychotic effects of CBD on individuals who had Parkinson’s disease also showed improvement of psychotic symptoms (13).

More recently, researchers used CBD as an adjunctive medication in the treatment of acute psychosis in individuals who had schizophrenia or other non-affective psychotic disorders (14). 

The CBD group showed a more significant improvement of  psychotic symptoms throughout the treatment, as compared with the placebo group. 

A more extensive study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2018, however, found that CBD was useful in reducing psychotic symptoms (15).

CBD showed promise in helping improve difficult-to-treat adverse symptoms and cognitive impairment linked to schizophrenia.


Suicide is complicated and tragic. However, it is often preventable. Being aware of the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help save lives.

Studies have shown a link between mental disorders and suicide. Meanwhile, CBD has been shown to help with mental disorders, making it a potential tool to help reduce, if not prevent, suicide attempts.

However, further tests are needed to determine the impact of prolonged CBD use on individuals. Also, more research is necessary to substantiate results from previous studies.

Thus, before using CBD or any cannabis products to help address symptoms linked to mental disorders, consult with a doctor experienced in cannabis use for advice.

Moreover, those in the United States may seek help from support groups and organizations, such as:

  1. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Suicide statistics. Retrieved from
  2. SPRC. Risk and Protective Factors. Retrieved from
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Suicide and PTSD. Retrieved from
  4. WHO. Suicide prevention. Retrieved from
  5. Nepon J, Belik SL, Bolton J, Sareen J. The relationship between anxiety disorders and suicide attempts: findings from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Depress Anxiety. 2010;27(9):791–798. DOI:10.1002/da.20674.
  6. Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825–836. DOI:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1.
  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Suicide and PTSD. Retrieved from
  8. Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016;20(4):16-005. DOI:10.7812/TPP/16-005.
  9. Crippa JA, Guimarães FS, Campos AC, Zuardi AW. Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a New Age. Front Immunol. 2018;9:2009. Published 2018 Sep 21. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2018.02009.
  10. de Mello A et al. “Antidepressant-Like and Anxiolytic-Like Effects of Cannabidiol: A Chemical Compound of Cannabis sativa”, CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets (2014) 13: 953.
  11. Mayo Clinic. (2020, Jan 7). Schizophrenia. Retrieved from
  12. Zuardi AW, Morais SL, Guimaraes FS, Mechoulam R. Antipsychotic effect of cannabidiol. J Clin Psychiatry. 1995;56:485-486.
  13. Zuardi AW, Cripp JA, Hallak JE, et al. Cannabidiol for the treatment of psychosis in Parkinson disease. J Psychopharmacol. 2009;23:979-983.
  14. McGuire P, Robson P, Cubala WJ, et al. Cannabidiol (CBD) as an adjunctive therapy in schizophrenia: a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2018;175;223-231.
  15. McGuire P, Robson P, Cubala WJ, et al. Cannabidiol (CBD) as an Adjunctive Therapy in Schizophrenia: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2018;175(3):225–231. DOI:10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17030325.

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Prevention & Awareness

Suicide Prevention Month: My Experience at the Emergency Room

September 24, 2015 January 14, 2016 Alyse Ruriani 2 Comments

This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here. Please note: This piece talks about a specific experience regarding suicidal thoughts and hospitalizations. Not all experiences will be or are the same.




When someone is actively suicidal, we often tell them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 911, or go to the local Emergency Room. These are all correct responses, but they are also scary, big steps for someone in a mental health crisis to take. I am going to try to demystify what happens at the emergency room when you go there for suicidal thoughts and planning by sharing my own experiences.


After telling the ER staff the reason why I was there, I was evaluated.

Whenever you go into the ER, for whatever reason, you tell the staff why you are there. You can word this however you want: I am feeling suicidal, I have a suicide plan, I’m having suicidal thoughts, I’m feeling really depressed, etc. I went with my parents, so they talked to the staff for me because I was unable to. (If you feel as though you need support, it’s a good idea to go with your parents or guardians or someone you trust.)


In my visits to the ER, they have had a mental health crisis professional come to evaluate me. The evaluation is assessing your suicide risk to determine what level of care you need. This means that you should be extremely honest with the person- they are just trying to get you the help that you need and that fits your situation. I was asked if I have a plan, if I’ve had previous attempts/thoughts/hospitalizations, what medications I am on (if any), any issues going on in my life, and other questions to determine my mental state.


This is often the steps that the ER and evaluator will be following to determine your safety.

My level of care needed was determined and they found me a place in that level of care.

In mental health treatment, there are different levels of care, meaning how much supervision and treatment you need.


Inpatient hospitalization (IP) is 24/7, acute care and support. You spend both days and nights there. Depending on your area, it may be a floor of a regular hospital or a freestanding psychiatric hospital. This treatment is also at behavioral health hospitals or clinics. Inpatient hospitalization is used when the person is at risk for harming themselves or someone else. The average length of stay is 5-7 days, but varies greatly. Since this is usually the outcome for an actively suicidal person, I will explain more about this treatment below.

Partial hospitalization program (PHP) is an outpatient day treatment where you are there for 6+ hours either everyday or every week day. Outpatient means you sleep at home. This can be at the hospital, at a behavioral health clinic, or at a mental health care center. Partial hospitalization treatment usually consists of 1:1 therapy, psychiatry, group therapy, psycho-educational groups, and recreational/expression therapy.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is about 3-4 hours, usually at night or in the afternoon, and is 3-4 times a week, Like partial treatment, you sleep at home. This option is used a lot in situations where the person is safe enough to be unsupervised but is struggling enough to need more intensive care than weekly therapy. This can also be done fairly easily in conjunction with school and/or work.

Outpatient Treatment is your typical weekly therapy/psychiatry/group meetings. Sometimes if a person is safe but is experiencing suicidal thoughts and they don’t do Intensive Outpatient, they will do regular outpatient 2 or 3 times a week with their therapist or do weekly sessions with their therapist and supplement with a weekly group therapy session.

Inpatient hospitalization is there to keep you safe and stabilize you.

Each time I have been to the ER for suicidal thoughts, the evaluator decided inpatient was needed for me. Following this decision, they talked to my parents and I about the different hospitals in the area but explained that they might not all have beds. I was in the ER for several hours while they found a bed, I get blood taken, and they ran some tests. My inpatient program was not at the hospital the ER was in, it was in a freestanding behavioral health hospital, so I was transferred by ambulance. (Though one time they did let my parents take me since we had been waiting for over 6 hours and would have to wait longer for the ambulance.)


My room looked similar to this. The rooms are usually plain looking and empty, but not scary like old photos of “psychiatric wards” you see online! I had one roommate and decorated with quotes and pictures.

I’ll be honest, inpatient hospitalization is not a vacation. You lose a lot of freedoms in inpatient treatment. In my experience, they took away anything that I could possibly hurt myself (or others) with- shoelaces, strings in clothes, belts- anything sharp and anything long. But, I had to understand that it is for my safety. Being inpatient meant that I was a danger to myself and determined not safe unless under 24/7 care- I was monitored closely to make sure I was safe. During my time inpatient, I received 1:1 therapy, psychiatry, checks every 15 minutes or so, safety planning, recreational therapy, skills building, discharge planning, and expressive therapy.


Inpatient hospitalizations are not meant to make you better, they are meant to get you stable and get you out so that you can get the true treatment you need. Care doesn’t end after an inpatient hospitalization and you are not cured because of it- you are simply deemed safe enough to transfer to a lower level, less intense version of care.


Don’t be scared of getting the help you need

While inpatient hospitalization can be scary, it’s also life-saving. I have been in this type of treatment several times after going to the ER and being evaluated. Each time has been different, but each time I learned something valuable. I first experienced the healing powers of art therapy while inpatient. I played piano and basketball while inpatient. I made a good friend while inpatient. I had conversations that helped me see more clearly while inpatient. Leaving everything you know and love and having very scarce contact with the outside world sounds terrifying, but sometimes it’s exactly what we need at that time.


If you get evaluated and are placed in a lower level of care, try to not take that as “you’re not sick enough.” I know that those feelings can come up sometimes in those with mental illness. Inpatient treatment is not a gold star you get that proves you are ill. Your illness is valid, no matter the treatment. The evaluation is just to get you in the correct treatment you need at that moment. Try not to let it get to the point where you need inpatient- reach out and get help before you hit that crisis point.


When in a mental health crisis, it can be so hard to see clearly. Research hospitals around you beforehand and find out what they do for behavioral health cases. Some hospitals near you may be more equipped for mental health crisis situations better than others. Here are some questions you or someone you trust who is with you should ask during these times. If you are someone who lives with suicidal thoughts, knowing what to expect can help ease some of the burden of getting help. Don’t hesitate- you can do this!


suicide prevention treatment


Prevention & Awareness

What REALLY Happens When You Reach Out to Crisis Lines?

April 3, 2017 Melina Acosta


As someone interested in mental health, you may know the numbers to the Crisis Text Line (text BRAVE to 741741) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) by heart. What you may not know is what happens — and what doesn’t happen — once you pick up your phone to reach out in a crisis. We partnered with our friends at the Crisis Text Line to dispel myths surrounding these services, so you can know what to expect when you place a call or send a text to help yourself or a loved one get through a difficult time.


Myth #1: I must be experiencing thoughts of suicide to reach out to a crisis line.


The trained counselors at the Crisis Text Line and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are available 24/7 for anyone who is experiencing any crisis, such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, LGBTQ issues, bereavement, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or mental illness-related concerns.  (Check out the topic trends from past text conversations here.) Although what is considered a ‘crisis’ is defined loosely to encourage anyone in need to reach out for help, callers and texters should recognize that crisis lines are neither short- nor long-term substitutes for therapy, emergency care, or professional health care.


Myth #2: If I mention that I’m suicidal, they’ll send the police to my location.


The Crisis Text Line engages in an “active rescue” (i.e., emergency services) in less than 1% of crises.  The goal of the Crisis Text Line is to de-escalate the situation and work with the texter to identify the best options for seeking help locally. Emergency services are only alerted when there is imminent risk of harm to the texter and when the texter is unable or unwilling to create a safety plan (for example, unable or unwilling to separate themselves from their means for suicide or self-harm).  Similarly, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s website emphasizes that its crisis counselors strive to empower the caller and help them problem-solve to identify the best course of action, meaning emergency services are only involved in situations where the caller is in immediate danger.


Myth #3: Since crisis lines have the potential to send emergency services to my location, my call/text is not confidential.


Anonymity is of utmost important to the Crisis Text Line and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. When you call or text a crisis line, your location and phone number are encrypted or otherwise anonymized, making it impossible for them to trace you.  In some situations, counselors at these crisis lines may ask you to provide personally identifiable information (your name and home address) to better assist you, but you are under no obligation to share this information over text or on the phone.


Myth #4: I can only reach out to crisis lines via text or phone call.


You can also connect with the Crisis Textline and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline over Facebook Messenger.  You can reach out to the Crisis Text Line by hitting “Send Message” on their Facebook page.  Facebook communication with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a little different: if a post of yours is flagged for suicidal content, Facebook reviews it and gives you the option to call and/or enter a Facebook chat with a counselor from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


The best part about communication with either of these crisis lines over Facebook is that your information is encrypted and anonymized, so you can rest assured that even your Facebook conversations with these services are confidential and secure.  They won’t have access to your profile or other identifying information, so they’ll only know what you tell them – nothing more!


So, what does happen when you call/text a crisis line?  After you text BRAVE to the Crisis Text Line at 741741, a trained crisis counselor will receive it and respond within minutes. Then, the crisis counselor will help you de-escalate your situation and connect you to help locally.


When you call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), you’ll hear an automated message with additional information and options while your call is routed to your local Lifeline network crisis center and hear some cool elevator music while you wait to be connected to a crisis counselor. Once you’re connected, you’ll have someone to listen to you, provide support, and connect you with help.


Sounds simple, huh? Don’t be intimidated or frightened by these free and confidential national resources.  On the other end of your text or call is a trained, caring individual who is volunteering their time to help you work through rough patches and access local resources. Reaching out when you need help is brave, no matter how big or small you think your issues are. Above all, your safety and privacy are paramount to the Crisis Text Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, so you’ll be in great hands.


Still have questions or concerns about crisis lines?  Check out the websites for the Crisis Text Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for more information.


mental health suicide prevention


Prevention & Awareness

Changing the Conversation

September 13, 2016 September 13, 2016 Russell Fascione

Russell Fascione is a member of the Active Minds Student Advisory Committee.


“Like… I get that it’s not the person’s fault really but… suicide is pretty selfish when you think about it.”




Instantly, it was like somebody lit that spark in my mind that never fails to ignite my passion for mental health advocacy. For me, there’s something about stigma that turns an ordinary passion into the sort of fire that you can just see in someone’s eyes.


The above sentence was said to me (paraphrased, of course) a couple of years ago. I was tabling with a fellow Active Minds member and a friend of hers had joined us to hang out. I think we were tabling about suicide, which is why the subject came up.


My immediate reaction when she said this was to be offended. Did she really have the nerve to say that while we were tabling about suicide prevention? Once I took a step back from my emotion I realized that she didn’t mean to insult anyone. She probably didn’t understand how stigmatizing it can be to label suicide as “selfish.” How could I expect her to understand when the topic of suicide is so seldom discussed in our society?


“The thing about suicide is….” I paused, not wanting to offend her or make her think she offended me, “Even if we can call the act of attempting suicide selfish, the person behind it is not acting out of selfishness… if that makes sense.”


I could tell she was truly listening to what I was saying, so I continued. “When someone is so far into that dark place that they want to end their life, they might not be thinking about who their actions are going to hurt. Maybe they are in too much pain to think about it. And even if they are aware of how it might impact their loved ones, the desire to end their pain may have become too great to bear anymore.”


If I remember correctly, that’s about all I said. I could’ve gone in-depth about the known risk factors for suicidal behavior. I could have explained how feeling like a burden (a common experience of those contemplating suicide) might make someone think that they’re doing their loved ones a favor by taking their own life, which might completely negate any feelings of selfishness or guilt that they might have had. However, I could tell she was really considering what I had just said, and I didn’t want to go too far and overwhelm her.


The notion that suicide is selfish is something I had spent a great deal of time thinking about.


When I was 14 I felt so incredibly guilty for wanting to die, because I knew that if I killed myself my family would be devastated. For years, that guilt and the selfishness that I felt for thinking about suicide kept me from reaching out for help. All of the stigma about suicide–much of which I had internalized–had me convinced that it was better to suffer in silence than to have someone else think what I did: that I was selfish for wanting to die. I’ll never know for sure if that guilt had pushed me closer to the edge or further from it, but I do know that I’m grateful to be alive.


Make no mistake, I didn’t lose any respect for this acquaintance because of her statement, and there was no animosity created between us. In fact I’m glad she said what she said, because it reminded me that the stigma we need to face is not just in the media and our larger social systems, but in the people around us who don’t even realize that these ideas are stigmatizing.


It’s one of the things that make the work that we all do as Active Minds members or in other advocacy settings that much more important. I also realized that it was important for me to listen and understand where she was coming from too, because a one-sided conversation is not a productive conversation, especially in the pursuit of social change.


Being part of the social movement against mental health stigma can be difficult and discouraging, especially with the seemingly endless sea of misinformation and disrespect shown in various media outlets, but it’s worth it. Thinking back, it makes me happy to remember how respectful and thoughtful that conversation was. It gives me hope to know that “fighting” the stigma doesn’t have to be a fight, sometimes it’s as simple as a conversation.


I wanted to share this story here because I hope to see a day in which we can completely put to rest the idea that victims of suicide are selfish, weak, or otherwise bad people, and think instead with empathy by making an effort to understand what someone might be going through if they are contemplating suicide.


If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “BRAVE” to 741-741 to reach Crisis Text Line.


suicide prevention suicide prevention month


What We Say Matters

By Megan Larson


Written by Megan Larson, Active Minds Student Advisory Committee and Active Minds at UCLA member.


I’m here. I’m breathing. I’m alive. This surprises me sometimes. Then I remember how lucky I am for this second chance.


When I attempted suicide I felt there was no hope left. I couldn’t imagine another day, another hour, even another minute of enduring the pain I was in. I was tired of fighting and I gave into the darkness I fought so hard to keep at bay daily.


I wish someone had been there to ask me the hard questions. I needed someone to ask me those specific and targeted questions: was I having thoughts of hurting myself; did I have a plan; and did I have the means to carry out that plan? I needed someone to be a bright light for me, someone to reach across the darkness of my depression that had left me numb to all emotion.


I’m so grateful that I’m still alive to say that I am the survivor of a suicide attempt. My experience has contributed to my passion for mental health advocacy and given me the desire to educate others about suicide. After all, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and second among people aged 15-34 years.


Many are afraid to say the word “suicide,” especially to those they are concerned might be having suicidal thoughts; however, discussing suicide will not give someone the idea to take their life if they have not already thought about it themselves. Instead, letting go of the fear of the topic of suicide lets the person know that you are there for them.


Although I had a newfound sense of hope and desire to live after my attempt, those around me were careful to watch over me. They were unsure what to say or do. The first few days of my recovery seemed to have a strange quality to them. I felt disconnected and like I couldn’t participate in the world around me. I had all of these feelings but I couldn’t access them—I was in a bubble with my emotions just out of reach.


Although my parents were there for me, some of what they said and did was well-intentioned but misguided.


I had disrupted what was seemingly a typical Wednesday night for my parents and they didn’t know how to react. In trying to convey their love for me, they said things like, “doing silly things like this is the only thing that hurts us.” That sort of stuff had the opposite of its intended effect.


I was left feeling guilty for what I had done and that sense of guilt only reaffirmed my negative beliefs. I knew they just wanted to understand why I had done what I had, but the constant questioning about why and how and asking “didn’t you think about us—how this would affect us—it would kill us?” was too much for me. I was overwhelmed by the constant question of how I was feeling. I wanted to talk about these things at my own pace. I was surrounded not only by my own emotions about what had happened, but those of my parents as well.


My parents didn’t get it all wrong, though, and their hearts were definitely in the right place. They didn’t have information available to them, but through trial and error they became a great source of support in my recovery.


When I came home from the hospital, my recovery was the focus. They took me to the movies and let me choose dinner, we played with my dog, and we joked as usual. Once I was home they did their best to make me comfortable and help me return to normal daily life. I appreciated every time my mom or dad made the simple comments “I love you” or “I’m here for you.” It let me know that when I was ready we would talk about what had happened, but that they weren’t going to force the conversation.


To be there and support someone doesn’t mean you have to do some grand gesture, rather, simple and direct words and actions make all the difference. The hardest things to say often are the exact things that need to be said. We must overcome our fear of those close to us considering suicide in order to reach them and provide support before an attempt is made; after an attempt is made we must overcome our disbelief about what has happened and simply be there for the one we love.


Are you or someone you know in crisis? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “BRAVE” to 741-741 to reach Crisis Text Line.


 Date September 23, 2016

 Author Megan Larson

 Tags suicide prevention, suicide prevention month


5 Reasons You Should Know DeQuincy Lezine

By Laura Frey


downloadDeQuincy Lezine, or “Quix” as he is often called, is one awesome human being.


There’s no other way to say it. When conducting research on suicide, his name pops up quite often, but it wasn’t until the past couple months that I’ve really learned about the great work he’s doing. Lucky for me, he agreed to be the mentor for my Emerging Scholars Fellowship project. Overall, I could list several reasons why you should know who he is, but I’ll be brief and stick with only 50. . . I’m kidding, I’ll only cover five.


(1) His book is the perfect mix of credible and personal.


DeQuincy’s book, Eight Stories Up, tells his personal story with suicide and also reviews the risk factors and treatment options for suicidal behavior. He has a talent for writing about research findings while simultaneously throwing in personal anecdotes. The result is that you feel as though you’re chatting with an old friend who cares deeply about your own experiences and well-being.




(2) He founded Prevention Communities


Prevention Communities is a resource for college and university studies. They translate research findings into everyday language so that more people can understand the information. DeQuincy is the president and CEO, and his goal is to help every student access the skills, and subsequently the hope, to cope with a mental health challenge. Their blog, 8 Stories Up, is an excellent resource for students.


(3) He brings a unique perspective to the table.


Because his personal experiences led him to suicide prevention, DeQuincy brings a perspective to his work that is quite rare. He has three different lenses through which to view suicide prevention: an attempt survivor, who became an advocate, who then became a researcher.


After his attempt during his freshman year in college, DeQuincy became heavily involved with Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPAN USA), and he is now the director of the Suicide Attempt Survivors and Lived Experience Division for the American Association of Suicidology. He also became a researcher, earning a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA and completing a postdoctoral fellowship in suicide prevention research at the University of Rochester. He now wears 3 different hats that allow him to see a richer perspective about where the field needs to go.


(4) He has hobbies!


I always love seeing people who have made great strides professionally but still have time to engage in outside interests. DeQuincy has managed to balance the two. He originally attended college for computer science and visual arts. Even though he later switched his major to psychology, he still has a passion for computers and technology. He even built his current computer “from the ground up.” DeQuincy is also a loving father of two – Benjamin and Nina (who is in the picture below).


Quix & Nina


(5) He’s a self-described chocoholic.


Because who doesn’t love someone who loves chocolate and doesn’t care who knows it? I mean… come on.


chocolate meme


 Date March 9, 2015

 Author Laura Frey

 Tags advocacy, Emerging Scholars Fellowship, prevention, suicide attempt survivor, suicide prevention


Emerging Scholars Fellowship: 3 Ways Facebook is Working to Prevent Suicide

By Janelle Goodwill


Janelle is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Janelle and her fellow scholars here.


Within the past few years, we have seen a number of people post messages or pictures to their Facebook page within hours of ending their life.  Since then, Facebook has been proactive in taking steps towards preventing suicide by providing information to persons currently experiencing suicidal ideation, and alerting others to potential warning signs and tips for helping someone who might be suicidal. Check out some of Facebook’s specific steps below.

  1. Both users who might be suicidal and those who are concerned about them can get help. Facebook implemented its first plans to prevent suicide in 2011, but efforts were both expanded and updated in February 2015 when Facebook joined forces with various mental health organizations (i.e. Now Matters Now, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, etc.) by creating more user-friendly resources.
    Users now have the option to flag content on their timeline as problematic, and from there are prompted to select from a list of options including getting help professional or having Facebook review the post and contact the person of concern directly. You can read more about the specific updates here.
  2. Specific information is now available for members of some traditionally under-served groups. Special information is listed for members of the U.S. Military and law enforcement, along with additional information being made available for persons who identify on the LGBT spectrum. The Trevor Project , Veterans Crisis Line, and Safe Call Now are just a few groups who have worked with Facebook to raise awareness surrounding suicide.
    And although these efforts are absolutely critical and very much needed, it is important to remember that there are other groups (i.e. racial & ethnic minorities) who also experience many barriers when seeking mental health treatment— and could potentially benefit from having specific information made available to them via Facebook. I’m hopeful that future iterations of Facebook’s suicide prevention plan will include information for members of other typically overlooked groups.
    Facebook has also worked to provide contact information for suicide prevention groups in over 30 countries. No matter if users are in South Africa, Lithuania or the Czech Republic, phone numbers, videos, and website links are now available for users who have questions or concerns related to suicide in regions across the globe.
    There are many other contributions Facebook has made in working to combat suicide, so please be sure to visit the Suicide Prevention tab in the Safety Tools & Resources section of their Help Center to learn more.



If you are someone that you know is struggling and needs help please be sure to pass along the information listed below.


If you prefer information via telephone:


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

National Alliance on Mental Health Hotline: 1-800-950-6264

If you prefer information via text message:


Crisis Text Line (


Phone #: 741-741


If you prefer information via the web:


Active Minds – General Mental Health Information 

Active Minds – Student Resources

Facebook Help Center

Instagram Help Center

 Date April 12, 2016

 Author Janelle Goodwill

 Tags Emerging Scholars Fellowship, Facebook, social media, suicide prevention


International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

November 15, 2016 November 14, 2016 Kevin Briggs

Kevin Briggs is a member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau. Bring him to your campus or organization to speak about mental health.


November 19th is “International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.”  This day is an opportunity celebrated around the world for people affected by suicide loss to gather at local events to find and provide comfort and gain understanding as they share their stories of their loved ones.  I once read that each suicide has what is referred to as a “direct affect” on six people.  This means that at least six people were affected enough to cause them to alter their daily life patterns.  I believe this number is low.  Of course, many, many more people are saddened by the loss.


In his book “Deaths of Man,” E. Schneidman wrote,


“The largest public health problem is neither the prevention of suicide nor the management of suicide attempts but the alleviation of the effects of stress in the survivors whose lives are forever altered.”


Some of you may know this already…my paternal Grandfather lost his life to suicide.  I was not born when this occurred, but his actions prevented me from ever getting to know him, and him, me.  Who knows, we may have been best friends.


Those of us who are suicide loss survivors are no doubt forced into an association that we wish we were never placed in, and really, didn’t even know existed in the first place.  It’s well known that most people who take their life suffer from a diagnosable mental illness.  Even though suicide has been on the rise since 1999, I truly believe that due to our better understanding of mental illness and the continual destigmatization surrounding it, suicide rates will go down.  There are many organizations supporting those who are contemplating suicide, as well as suicide loss survivors.  There are crisis chat lines, crisis texting help and even “apps” for assistance.  Organizations like Active Minds, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and others openly discuss suicide prevention and have information readily available for suicide loss survivors.




Being that I never met my Grandfather, I will say I don’t suffer the anguish as a parent does who has lost a child, or someone who has lost a good friend or another family member that they have a deep bond with.  During my career with the California Highway Patrol I encountered hundreds of people contemplating suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB).  Most “negotiations” were successful.  But there are also those encounters with people with whom I was not able to help and they did in fact, perish.  These encounters have significantly affected me, pushing my desire to help others to the forefront.


kevin-briggs-suicide-blog-social-mediaIn my discussions with family members from those lost on the GGB and many, many others in my travels speaking about suicide prevention and crisis intervention, I see time and time again the pain left from loss. Some people say this is a ripple effect from the suicide.  I can tell you the devastation is bigger than a ripple.  It is a tsunami, a hurricane that strikes hard and leaves in its wake sadness, grief, unanswered questions and even guilt.  Those left behind wonder what they could have done to prevent the tragedy.  Please believe me when I tell you the action of the family member or friend was not your fault.  The act of suicide is a personal one, not selfish, and in almost every case, not intended to cause pain or anguish to anyone.  The common purpose of why a person dies by suicide generally, is to seek a solution to the intolerable psychological pain they are in. Their crisis management skills have been exhausted and they feel hopeless about their situation.


What can those of us do that are left behind, the suicide loss survivors?  Do our best to live a life of happiness, continual growth and service to your community.  This is what those who have lost their life would wish for you, I’m sure.


I urge everyone to take some time on November 19 to recognize not only suicide loss survivors, but all who have lost their life to suicide.  There are a number of events taking place worldwide.  I’ve listed a few websites below for additional information.


God bless and keep each other safe,




American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:


National Alliance on Mental Illness:


Survivors of Suicide Loss:


Active Minds Speakers Bureau mental health suicide prevention


Suicide Prevention Month: A Life Worth Living

By Anonymous


This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here.


you are not a burden active minds suicide prevention monthAccording to the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (Van Orden et al., 2010), desires for suicide arise from a combination of perceived burdensomeness (i.e. “the world would be better off without me”) and thwarted belongingness (i.e. “no one will ever truly love or understand me”).


The capability for suicide is a separate, yet crucial factor that interacts with these desires. Where capability is present, there is the most acute, immediate, and serious risk for suicide. However, many people experience persistent desires for suicide without capability for it. That was the case for me for most of my life.


I’ve almost always felt like a burden –which makes sense considering that my father, frustrated that I didn’t have the attributes he had wanted in a child, frequently said I was a burden.


When I cried, he reminded me that unlike many children in the world I wasn’t being beaten, wasn’t impoverished, had both my legs, etc. He taught me to see my depression as another sign of my selfishness, and he did his best to prevent me from getting help.


Thwarted belongingness has been a longstanding problem for me too. Growing up, I felt as though no one in the world could accept or understand me, and this made me vulnerable to putting up with rather rotten behavior on the part of friends and romantic partners who had once thrown me a few crumbs of kindness.


Repeatedly, after a friend or partner started to bully me, threaten me, use me, cheat on me, abandon me, or otherwise treat me badly, I assumed I somehow deserved it (for being too boring, too needy, insufficiently giving, and so on). I would then spend several years mourning the loss of what we’d once had, just hoping that somehow they’d come back and care about me again that tiny, little bit.


Of course, interpersonal problems – such as feeling like a burden and feeling alone — go hand in hand with depression, which I’ve had since childhood.


Often interpersonal problems are the stressor that makes someone with a vulnerability to depression begin to have far worse symptoms than before. Depression also has a way of exacerbating interpersonal problems and separating us from others.


Some people become frustrated with our depressive behavior and reject us, and because we fear this happening, many of us pre-emptively back away from people who might have been accepting if we had let them.


It’s a vicious cycle.


I’ve had several severe depressive episodes, but the only time I ever tried to kill myself was in college, because it was then that I felt most alone. Everyone I knew was facing their own changes, going in different directions. I felt that no one could stand to be around me, and I couldn’t stand to be with myself either. I felt sure that I was a burden and that my death wouldn’t matter much to anyone.


I quietly survived my attempt and just went on as if nothing happened.


Though I continued to have very strong suicidal wishes, I never made another suicide attempt because I started to worry that killing myself might make me more of a burden, rather than less.


First, I thought that I couldn’t kill myself because I didn’t want other people to have to clean up the messy state in which I keep my personal belongings.


Then, I told myself that I couldn’t do it because my cats needed me.


Finally, I started believing that it would cause other people emotional pain if I killed myself, and I resolved never to do it–no matter how much I didn’t want to live.


Despite this resolution, my depression and isolation were still quite severe, and I remained very tempted to kill myself. During my third year of college I began to fear I would break that resolution and admitted myself to the hospital. After that, I went to live in a residential treatment center. From there, I resumed college classes and applied to graduate school in psychology.


Today I am a college professor. I work hard to manage my mental illness with ongoing treatment and making healthy lifestyle choices (including carefully choosing caring people for companionship).


Without depression clouding my vision, my long-held assumption that I am a burden no longer seems indisputable, because I think I do make a difference for my students and other people close to me. I’m not just waiting to die but instead trying to make the rest of my life one worth living.


If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or you can text “Brave” to 741741 to reach Crisis Text Line.


 Date September 16, 2015

 Author Anonymous

 Tags depression, recovery, suicide prevention, suicide prevention month


suicide prevention month

#ReasonsISpeak: Your voice is your power




Every September we honor Suicide Prevention Month with the #ReasonsISpeak campaign on social media.

Thank you for another successful campaign, and for helping us share with the world the reasons we speak about mental health and suicide. Your voice is your power, and every story shared helps reduce the stigma around mental health issues.

Below are some of our favorite #ReasonsISpeak posts. We were so moved by all of your responses. <3

Active Minds at Catholic University of America share the reasons they speak in this video!




Because I would’ve missed all of this… #reasonsispeak #stopthestigma #nationalsuicidepreventionmonth #itsokaynottobeokay #activeminds


“Why do you speak about suicide?” I look back at that period of my life with regret, knowing that I wasted more than 1 year of my life giving up on myself. But I also look back at that time with gratitude and pride– Because I survived. Because I’m still here. Alive. Today I speak about suicide to help end the shame and the silent. To give a voice to those who are struggling too much to ask for help. To let them know that it’s okay to make mistakes and not be perfect. To tell all those who are struggling that: You are not alone.

“Why do you speak about suicide?” I look back at that period of my life with regret, knowing that I wasted more than 1 year of my life giving up on myself. But I also look back at that time with gratitude and pride–

Because I survived.

Because I’m still here. Alive.

Today I speak about suicide to help end the shame and the silent.

To give a voice to those who are struggling too much to ask for help.

To let them know that it’s okay to make mistakes and not be perfect.

To tell all those who are struggling that:

You are not alone.


 Date October 5, 2016

 Author Active Minds Staff

 Tags #ReasonsISpeak, suicide prevention, suicide prevention month


Why NDWS is the Most Important Day of the Year

By Maggie Bertram


Sure, National Day Without Stigma is sometimes regarded as the nerdy cousin of the uber popular Stress Less Week, but that doesn’t mean it’s less important. Thoughtful programming during NDWS can set you up for an entire year’s worth of outstanding impact on campus.


It sets the stage. Everything you’ll do for the rest of the year–every program, every tabling event–will be rooted in the messages of NDWS. Stigma and discrimination are harmful, silencing epidemics that cause people to shut down and remain silent, and that silence can have devastating impacts for all of us. NDWS is your chance to make the case for speaking up.


It opens the door to help-seeking. Not only can your chapter use NDWS as a launching pad to talk about help-seeking throughout the year, but the Counselors Out of the Center activity humanizes the act of help-seeking. Invite your counselors to the student union, dining hall, or other gathering place on campus to get them out and meeting students as people, not just counselors.


Chris Traeger from Parks & Rec: 


It’s an opportunity for positivity. Each message you draw for Chalk Out Stigma (or flyer-out stigma if chalking is a no-no on campus) will be positive and empowering. Let people know they matter, their lives matter, and that they have the support of the community.


Positive bunny says: Whenever you are struggling, remember the times you have succeeded and survived, and know that you can make it through.


It opens up conversations. National Day Without Stigma is your opportunity to speak up and provoke debate about the discrimination and injustice you see around mental health, both on campus and in the wider society. This is a time to have meaningful conversations about what it means when people mock the mentally ill, why language is important, and how to recognize the safe, understanding people to talk to.


It connects you to the Active Minds Movement. NDWS is celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall! Join hundreds of other chapters across the country and throughout the last decade who carry the work of NDWS forward year after year.


 Date October 3, 2016

 Author Maggie Bertram

 Tags help-seeking, mental health, national day without stigma, suicide prevention month


Build the Door

By Maggie Bertram


A few years ago, I started Active Minds’ formal observation of Suicide Prevention Month. There were several reasons for this. Chief among them was that we all know too many people who have died by suicide; or we know their loved ones; or we know people who have attempted; or we, ourselves, have contemplated taking our own lives.


Suicide is the most tragic, heartbreaking, confusing form of death. I hate it. I want to prevent it. So many of us do; so, I created an awareness campaign.


Over the last few years, I’ve worked with fellow staff members and organizations to develop messaging and programs. In doing so, I have learned two things definitively:


We will never eradicate suicide.

We can’t stop trying to prevent suicide.

Continue Reading


 Date October 1, 2016

 Author Maggie Bertram

 Tags suicide prevention, suicide prevention month


I’m a Survivor

By Katie Walls


Written by Katie Walls, of Active Minds at Elmhurst College.


My name is Katie Walls and I am a Survivor.


When I woke up the morning after my suicide attempt, I decided that I needed help beyond the therapy that I was already receiving, so I made the decision to go to a residential treatment center. After completing residential treatment, I felt slightly better, yet still struggled. I continued to struggle until I found my home at Elmhurst College’s chapter of Active Minds.


I had no knowledge of what Active Minds was. All I knew was it is a club that talks about mental health disorders on campus. In the course of a couple of months I went from attending my first meeting, to taking charge of prizes and giveaways for our PostSecretU event, to president of the chapter. Continue Reading


 Date September 27, 2016

 Author Katie Walls

 Tags suicide prevention, suicide prevention month


Now What?

By Andy Lohman


It sounds counterintuitive, but on March 28, 2012, the hot and rigid properties of asphalt made up the most forgiving surface of my life. I had attempted suicide, but I had survived and was posed with the toughest question of my life: now what?


I suppose I should back up. I had been depressed for much longer than I knew what depression was. Even in third grade I can remember getting down on myself for not doing as well in school as I thought I should. My perfectionism followed me throughout my childhood casting a shadow of disappointment on my accomplishments. Continue Reading


 Date September 26, 2016

 Author Andy Lohman

 Tags depression, suicide prevention month


What We Say Matters

By Megan Larson


Written by Megan Larson, Active Minds Student Advisory Committee and Active Minds at UCLA member.


I’m here. I’m breathing. I’m alive. This surprises me sometimes. Then I remember how lucky I am for this second chance.


When I attempted suicide I felt there was no hope left. I couldn’t imagine another day, another hour, even another minute of enduring the pain I was in. I was tired of fighting and I gave into the darkness I fought so hard to keep at bay daily.


I wish someone had been there to ask me the hard questions. I needed someone to ask me those specific and targeted questions: was I having thoughts of hurting myself; did I have a plan; and did I have the means to carry out that plan? I needed someone to be a bright light for me, someone to reach across the darkness of my depression that had left me numb to all emotion. Continue Reading


 Date September 23, 2016

 Author Megan Larson

 Tags suicide prevention, suicide prevention month


The Only Way Out is In

By Colleen Coffey


This post was written by Dr. Colleen Coffey, a member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau.


I think that mental health issues exist on a spectrum. I mean this, of course, in the context of the range of issues we all face and the spectrum of severity of diagnoses I also mean this as it relates to how issues appear within us.


The best analogy I can think of when it comes to mental health issues is a Russian nesting doll. A little doll, inside of a medium sized doll, inside of a larger doll that presents to the world. Usually, the larger doll is me–the best version of healthy, happy me. The little doll is anxiety and depression–it’s always there but kind of little in comparison to the rest of me.


Most days I feel great and my quality of life is pretty awesome.


Some days I still struggle.


Continue Reading


 Date September 22, 2016

 Author Colleen Coffey

 Tags anxiety, suicide prevention, suicide prevention month


Can You Spare a Moment?

By Kevin Briggs


Written by Kevin Briggs, Affinity Speaker with the Active Minds Speakers Bureau and “Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge.”


It has been two and a half years since I retired from the California Highway Patrol. Almost all of my professional career has been in government service. When I retired in November 2013 to start Pivotal Points, I really had no idea how to proceed, but I did find out that the following items were a must: business license, web page, meetings with my tax professional, listening to my mentors. Quite overwhelming I would have to say.


I have learned so much since retirement, and have presented around most of the United States, and also in Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. Presenting on the subject of suicide prevention and intervention has been an awesome and humbling experience for me, and to be honest…a hell of a lot of work.


When it comes to mental health, the question I am asked the frequently is: “How can I help someone who may be suicidal?”  This is a key question that we need to continue to collectively think about.


We should and must continue to educate our societies, families, friends, and loved ones to recognize warning signs that someone has lost so much hope they are do not want to live. Let me share this with you, in 2014 we lost over 42,000 people to suicide–just in the United States. Nearly one in five people suffer from mental illness each year. There are very few people who have not been affected in one way or another by suicide.


Could we have helped those folks?  Possibly.


I have heard time and time again, “I saw the signs,” “They talked about it, but I never thought they would go through with it,” or “I thought someone else would have talked to them.” When you really stop and think about it, writing or speaking about suicide is a cry for help.


So what can we do?


For starters, if you even think someone is suffering, sit down with the individual. Let them know what you’ve seen or heard that makes you think they are suffering or in distress. Remember, listening is the key to understanding.


I have had psychiatrists tell me they wish more peers in their occupation would really listen to their clients. They hear symptoms and prescribe medication. The person comes back in a month and if they feel even slightly better, then the medication is doing its job.


My personal and ongoing treatment with my psychiatrist and counselor have been very good. Both listen intently and together we work out a plan for my continued success.


So back to the question, “What can we do?” In my experience, those who have been suicidal feel very alone, in pain, and think they are a burden to their families. To sit down with that person, tell them how important they are in your life, that their life has value, and you’ll be there for them, is a great start.


In my contacts with several hundred people contemplating suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge, loneliness was a main contributing factor. Whether it stemmed from a broken heart, abuse/neglect, aging, social media or feeling rejected by others, social isolation can cause very serious health effects. Chronic loneliness can affect your heart, brain, life expectancy, and as a matter of fact, it is a major contributing factor to depression and alcoholism.


How difficult would it be for you to take a bit of time from your day to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with someone you think may be suffering? What if it was you on the other side?  You probably won’t be able to solve their problems/concerns, but just taking a bit of time to be there, to listen to understand, and to say, “I’m here for you whenever you need me,” may be just what the person needs, and you may have just saved a life.


If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text “BRAVE” to 741-741 to reach Crisis Text Line.


 Date September 20, 2016

 Author Kevin Briggs

 Tags suicide prevention, suicide prevention month



By Laura Horne




We’re two weeks into the Fall 2016 Kognito Challenge, and we are already seeing amazing results!


Overall, 65 schools have reached more than 600 students via Kognito’s At Risk for College Students mental health simulation, which is free to all schools with Active Minds chapters through October 7. The online, interactive experience teaches participants how to identify and assist students in distress.


This is the second Kognito Challenge. Collectively, Active Minds chapters have engaged more than 4,000 participants since the first Kognito Challenge in spring 2016.


As of the time this post was written, Austin Peay State University, Saint Cloud State University, and Stockton University, have completed and are leading the Challenge, each training more than 55 students, faculty, and staff. The first 40 chapters to engage at least 50 students and 1 faculty or staff member to complete the full simulation will receive $250 credit toward their national fundraising goal for mental health awareness and the Active Minds movement.


There’s still plenty of time to join in and compete to win! Here are a few creative approaches chapter members have taken to encourage participation:


Take pictures of students completing the simulation.


Pictures are worth 1,000 words. Take pictures of people completing the challenge and post on social media.


Promote the Challenge on social media.


Build an army one step at a time. Gather a team of a few people to help you spread the word. Or, ask one person to tell a friend, to tell a friend, to tell a friend. Active Minds at Austin Peay State University, University of Texas at San Antonio, and others have tapped into their social media networks to spread the word via social media for the Challenge.3


Use school resources.


Several schools have sent the Kognito simulation link to their campus listservs, inviting all students, staff, and faculty to complete the course. Talk to your school newspaper, radio station, social media team and announcers at sporting events about helping you promote the challenge.


Give out free food or candy in exchange.


In the past, some chapters have re-branded their Kognito Challenge (such as a “Game Simulation Marathon”) and distributed candy in a central area on campus as a way to draw students to their table and ask them to complete the simulation.


Incentivize with gift cards.


Several chapters are raffling off gift cards to participants. Participating chapters receive weekly user reports from Kognito, which can be used to randomly select prize winners.


Integrate the simulation into fall RA training or first-year experience/orientation.


Several schools have been working on incorporating the Kognito simulation into RA training and/or first-year experience/orientation. To count for the competition, each individual needs to complete the course, so it is recommended that they/orientation bring their own laptops to the training or attend part of the course in a computer lab.


Team up with professors to provide extra credit.


Professors in departments of psychology, social work, public health, and others may be interested in offering course credit to students who complete the simulation.


Incorporate it into your student org fair and other programming.


Last year, the University of Pittsburgh allowed participation in the Kognito Challenge to qualify students to be acknowledged as completing the chapter’s upcoming campus-wide mental health unity pledge.


There’s still plenty of time to get involved and train your peers to help students in distress! If you haven’t started yet, take the course today at and share it with students on campus before the free course expires on October 7!


Team up with your school’s marketing club.


find out if your campus marketing club would take on promoting the Challenge as a project.


Set weekly goals.


Set small, realistic weekly goals that will put you over the finish line. All you need are a few participants each week.


Organize a dorm night.


Organize a dorm night. Talk to RAs to help you schedule a few 30 minutes time-slots when people take the simulation in their room. Give out refreshments.


Contact the Chapters Team at [email protected] for support.


 Date September 19, 2016

 Author Laura Horne

 Tags Kognito, suicide prevention, suicide prevention month


My Cat, the Lifesaver

By Robyn Suchy


IMG_1080 (1) I’m only a little embarrassed to say that I think my cat may have been partially responsible for saving my life.


I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder for a long time–almost ten years now that I look back on it–but I’ve always been able to find my way back with some time, effort, and a lot of therapy. But last summer I fell into a depressive episode that was deeper, longer, and more debilitating than anything I’d ever experienced


For the first time my mood wasn’t the only thing affected by my mental illness. My body hurt, all the time, constantly. I was either sleeping for 14 hours a day or less than four. I’d go two weeks eating almost nothing and another two weeks eating almost anything. I could barely move but worse than any of that, I could barely think.


I’ve always felt smart, and I’ve liked using my brain. My job demands that as my primary function, but suddenly I found myself floundering. I was forgetting common words; losing them halfway through a sentence I’d already started. I developed a stutter and couldn’t think through tasks or projects, immediately overwhelmed by everything. I would write emails with the same care and attention that I normally would but people would write back saying I wasn’t making sense, that the sentences didn’t mean anything when put together.


I’d fallen into old habits of self-harm, and I was struggling with constant thoughts of suicide. And if I managed to drag myself into work on any given day, I’d be faced with coming home utterly exhausted to a lonely apartment in a new city, far from my friends and family.


I did a decent job keeping up the façade of being depressed but functioning…or at least that’s the only explanation that I can think of for why my friends decided it was time to redouble their push for me to adopt a cat.


Continue Reading


 Date September 16, 2016

 Author Robyn Suchy

 Tags Borderline Personality Disorder, depression, self-care, suicide prevention, suicide prevention month


News from Active Minds

Teen Suicide Prevention Bill Signed into Law in Maryland

May 11, 2005 June 20, 2014 Press Room

On May 10, 2005 Governor Robert Ehrlich signed HB930 into Maryland law, calling for the implementation of peer-to-peer mental health awareness programs like Active Minds, along with screening programs, in pilot Maryland high schools and juvenile facilities.


Introduced by Delegate Sheila Hixson (D-District 20), with help from Delegate Hank Heller (D-District 19), HB930 mandates the Maryland State Department of Education to apply for federal funding through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act to fund these teen suicide prevention programs. Alison Malmon, founder and Executive Director of Active Minds, Inc. was part of the core group instrumental in getting this legislation passed. Many thanks go to Heidi Coons and Craig Knoll from Threshold Services, who first approached Delegate Hixson with the idea for this Bill.


press release

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