Our small community, Camanche, Iowa, has been greatly affected by suicide. We have suffered 22 losses during the last 15 years. In December 2011, my 13 year old daughter lost a classmate to suicide. This is one of the most heart wrenching situations my daughter has experienced in her short life. She is determined to make a difference, somehow, some way.
In August 2012, we began with a simple pledge booth at our hometown festival. We received more than 250 pledges from local teens to speak out before harming themselves & also to speak out if a friend or loved one was having thoughts of self-harming. This started a movement. Since then, we brought the Yellow Ribbon Program to our schools, held a “Breaking the Silence” walk in October, and are working with area schools and agencies to help spread the awareness of mental health.
One of the most important meetings we had was with Jill Kluesner, who made our focus even more apparent. She introduced us to Mental Health First Aid. A class was held in our community in September. Several local agencies and three of our local EMTs attended this class along with five members of our organization.
The knowledge we all took away from this class was priceless. From the moment this class began we were able to relate to the information that was provided to us due to the great communication skills and knowledge of the two instructors. While mental health is a topic that many wish to not discuss, we feel that the Mental Health First Aid class was essential in bringing the knowledge and awareness our community is striving for. This program is a top-notch service to area communities like ours and we are so grateful for the opportunity to have this program in our area.
We would like to extend our heartfelt thank you to all who help organizations like ours to become a staple in our communities. Without a program such as Mental Health First Aid, we would have continued to feel helplessness.