Thursday, November 27, 2008


Friday, November 21, 2008

National Survivors of Suicide Day

10th Annual National Survivors of Suicide Day Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008
Program to Reach Over 170 Conference Sites Nationwide and Internationally Webcast Available on the AFSP Website with Online Chat to Follow

What is National Survivors of Suicide Day?

National Survivors of Suicide Day was created by U.S. Senate resolution, through the efforts of Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, who lost his father to suicide. Every year, AFSP sponsors an event to provide an opportunity for the survivor community to come together for support, healing, information and empowerment.

AFSP's National Survivors of Suicide Day links simultaneous survivor conferences throughout the country and internationally -- each local conference site is organized independently, but they're all connected through a 90-minute broadcast. This unique network of healing conferences helps survivors connect with others who have survived the tragedy of suicide loss, and express and understand the powerful emotions they experience.

On Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, AFSP will sponsor its 10th annual National Survivors of Suicide Day, reaching out to thousands of people who have lost a loved one to suicide. The day of conferences connects survivors of suicide loss through a 90-minute broadcast, allowing them to share their experiences of loss. The broadcast features a panel of experienced survivors and mental health professionals and offers emotional support and information about resources for healing after the loss of a loved one to suicide.

"This day is both meaningful and helpful to the survivors that participate," AFSP Director of Survivor Initiatives Joanne Harpel said. "It is a day of remembrance that provides survivors with a unique avenue to connect with others who have survived this tragedy of suicide loss."

All local conferences will join in the 2008 broadcast from 1-2:30 p.m. EST. Many of the local conference sites plan their own programs around the broadcast, including panels and breakout groups, all aimed at helping survivors heal. For those survivors of suicide loss who don't live near a conference site or who find it difficult to attend in person, the 90-minute broadcast will also be available on the AFSP website from 1-2:30 pm, EST, with a live online chat immediately following the program. Click here to register to watch from your own computer.

To hear a radio interview with Joanne Harpel, AFSP’s director of survivor initiatives, click here.

Last year's broadcast, originally shown on Nov. 17, 2007, is archived on the AFSP website. Click here to watch the 2007 broadcast free of charge at anytime.

AFSP's National Survivors of Suicide Day is part of a growing movement toward educating the public about suicide and its aftermath. Through AFSP's sustained efforts and awareness campaigns, Americans are increasingly focused on the crisis of suicide. The hope is that participation in the conference will further this movement, encouraging survivors throughout the country and the globe to share their experiences and join together in the healing process.

Broadcast Program (1-2:30 p.m. EST.)

Opening Remarks
Joanne L. Harpel, AFSP Director of Survivor Initiatives

Surviving Suicide Loss: A Panel Discussion
John R. Jordan, Ph.D., moderator (Providence, RI)
Luanne Cali (Kalamazoo, MI)
Debra Clancy (Cincinnati, OH)
Lizette Martinez (Los Angeles, CA)
Peggy Morse (Stockbridge, MA)
Christian Pitkin (San Francisco, CA)
Sidney Zisook, M.D. (San Diego, CA)

Closing Remarks
Robert Gebbia, AFSP Executive Director
Joanne Harpel, AFSP Director of Survivor Initiatives


Luanne Cali, a computer analyst from Kalamazoo, MI, lost her partner, Linda Konu, a 48-year old construction site manager, in 2004. Luanne and Linda met in the Army in 1975, and were “partners for four years, best friends forever, and soul mates.” A frequent public speaker about her loss, Luanne works with a local crisis center, co-facilitating a support group for survivors. In Linda’s memory, Luanne has also been a coach for Girls on the Run, a non profit organization that encourages self-esteem and health for preteen girls.

Lizette Martinez lost her older brother, 24-year old Miguel, in 2004. He was a recording and sound engineer. Lizette, a professional chef, was featured on The Learning Channel’s “LA Ink” in February, 2008, telling the story of her brother’s suicide as background to the tattoo she requested in the shape of AFSP’s lifesaver logo. She is a member of the board of AFSP’s Los Angeles Chapter and volunteers with the Los Angeles Crisis Response Team.

Peggy Morse’s son and only child, Bryan Michael Gajdarik, took his own life in June of 1997; he had just turned 16. A letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, Peggy has co-facilitated a support group for survivors for six years, trained as an AFSP Survivor Outreach Volunteer, has participated in AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Overnight and Community Walks, and established scholarships in Bryan’s memory. To honor Bryan’s interest in the movement of the stars, Peggy specially- designed his cemetery marker to interact with the sun: every year at the moment of his birth, the sunlight lands on a marker bearing her name.

Christian Pitkin lost his father Bill, a longtime senior executive in the insulation and fiberglass industry, in 2003, at the age of 67. A Senior Account Manager for a northern California software company, Christian is the Chair of the NorCal Chapter of AFSP, and has attended three of AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Overnight Walks in his dad’s memory. Christian describes his Dad as the person he would “always first go to for advice.”

Debra Clancy’s husband and high school sweetheart, David, an U.S. Air Force veteran and electrician, took his own life in February, 1995, at the age of 35. At the time of David’s death, Deb had three young children, ages 7, 9, and 11. Deb ultimately remarried, and in addition to raising her children also works handles customer contact and accounting for a family business. She has facilitated a support group for survivors of suicide loss, is Chair of AFSP’s Cincinnati chapter, and has spoken extensively about suicide to school personnel and community groups.

Robert Gebbia has been AFSP’s Executive Director since 1997. Prior to joining AFSP, he was with United Way, and also worked as a Senior Health Planner for the New York City Department of Health. He holds a B.A. in Sociology from Hofstra University and an M.A. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research.

Joanne Harpel became AFSP’s first-ever Director of Survivor Initiatives in 2002 after having served on AFSP’s national Board of Directors. Joanne is a former attorney with experience in non-profit administration, and is responsible for the full range of AFSP’s survivor programs, including National Survivors of Suicide Day, the Survivor Outreach Program, the Survivor e-Network, and the Support Group Facilitator Training Program. She is a survivor of the 1993 suicide of her brother Stephen, who was a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.

John R. (“Jack”) Jordan, Ph.D., a psychologist in private practice specializing in bereavement, is the founder and Director of the Family Loss Project, a research and clinical group based in Boston, MA. Dr. Jordan has worked with survivors for more than 25 years, and is the co-author of After Suicide Loss: Coping with Your Grief, available through AFSP. He is the Professional Advisor to the AFSP Survivor Council and a former board member of both AFSP-New England and the Association for Death Education and Counseling.

Sidney Zisook, M.D., is a Professor and Director of the Residency Training Program for the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. Author or co-author of over 200 articles, chapters, manuals, and books, Dr. Zisook is best known for his work on bereavement, stress, mood, suicide and psychiatric education, for which he has won numerous awards. A Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and member of the American College of Psychiatrists, Dr. Zisook also serves on AFSP’s Survivor Research Working Group and on the board of its San Diego Chapter.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Daddy's Little Girl

Ahhhh....Conway Twitty....doesn't his voice just give you goose does it to me every time. Only him, Barry White and Elvis have that effect. The song is just a fav of mine. Didn't really want the cutsy Birthday song.

Oh is my's my mom who should get the well dad too...they did all the work...what did I do...nada that's what.

Let me share the story of my real birthday. My mom went into labor and they rushed to the local area hospital. After contacting the doc, my dad was told to bring my mom back to Calera to the docs office. Way back then, dads didn't help with the birth---but it was the wee hours of the morning. There was no nurse there to help. My dad had to help. I was a blue baby---nothing too serious but my dad said it scared him shitless.

Most men want sons but my dad always wanted a daughter. He even had the name all picked out. He tried to get all his brothers and sisters to name their baby girls my name. He never planned on getting married. That is until he saw my mom walking down the street with 2 little kids. He turned to the guy he was working with and told him "I'm gonna marry that woman". A few short months later he did just that.

He raised my older brother and sister as his own. To them he will always be daddy. It didn't take long after they married for me to come along. They just celebrated their 49th anniversary. Not bad huh. So my dad got the daughter he wanted---well most of the time anyway. We have our differences---boy do we have our differences. But no matter what problems we have and no matter how old we get. I will always be daddy's little girl.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obama Weekly Democratic Radio Address

Obama is taking the presidency into the Internet age. Where President Frankin D Roosevelt had his fireside chats with America, Obama will place his weekly talks on youtube for all to see.

Or audio only here.

Today, the leaders of the G-20 nations – a group that includes the world’s largest economies – are gathering in Washington to seek solutions to the ongoing turmoil in our financial markets. I’m glad President Bush has initiated this process because our global economic crisis requires a coordinated global response.

And yet, as we act in concert with other nations, we must also act immediately here at home to address America’s own economic crisis. This week, amid continued volatility in our markets, we learned that unemployment insurance claims rose to their highest levels since September 11, 2001. We’ve lost jobs for ten straight months – nearly 1.2 million jobs this year, many of them in our struggling auto industry. And millions of our fellow citizens lie awake each night wondering how they’re going to pay their bills, stay in their homes, and save for retirement.

Make no mistake: this is the greatest economic challenge of our times. And while the road ahead will be long, and the work will be hard, I know that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis – because here in America we always rise to the moment, no matter how hard. And I am more hopeful than ever that America will rise once again.

But we must act right now. Next week, Congress will meet to address the spreading impact of the economic crisis. I urge them to pass at least a down-payment on a rescue plan that will create jobs, relieve the squeeze on families, and help get the economy growing again. In particular, we cannot afford to delay providing help for the more than one million Americans who will have exhausted their unemployment insurance by the end of this year. If Congress does not pass an immediate plan that gives the economy the boost it needs, I will make it my first order of business as President.

Even as we dig ourselves out of this recession, we must also recognize that out of this economic crisis comes an opportunity to create new jobs, strengthen our middle class, and keep our economy competitive in the 21st century.

That starts with the kinds of long-term investments that we’ve neglected for too long. That means putting two million Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, and schools. It means investing $150 billion to build an American green energy economy that will create five million new jobs, while freeing our nation from the tyranny of foreign oil, and saving our planet for our children. It means making health care affordable for anyone who has it, accessible for anyone who wants it, and reducing costs for small businesses. And it also means giving every child the world-class education they need to compete with any worker, anywhere in the world.

Doing all this will require not just new policies, but a new spirit of service and sacrifice, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. If this financial crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people. And that’s how we will meet the challenges of this time – together. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Restore Our Soldiers

Soldiers who participate in war often come home a very different person from the one who left. Many veterans suffer from “invisible wounds” that have affected them in ways that are subtle yet quite damaging. These invisible wounds are now called PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which I prefer to refer to as “soldier's heart,” the term that was used to describe PTSD during and after the Civil War."

Brian Delate,
ROS founder and
Director of "Soldier's Heart"
Restore Our Soldiers

Soldier's Heart Trailer

In honor of Veteran's Day, Restore Our Soldiers website is offering the ability to view the award winning movie, Soldier's Heart.

As you have seen in my 2 previous posts, PTSD has exacted a heavy toll on our returning veterans. Take the time to view this whole movie. Please visit Restore Our Soldiers and see what you can do to get involved.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Distress Signal

Distress Signal | The American Prospect

Derek Henderson was jumpy and full of rage when he came home from Iraq in 2003. Over the next four years, he fought with his mother and brothers and got into trouble with the police. Finally, on June 22, 2007, he jumped off a bridge into the Ohio River. He didn't die, though, at least not right away. He tried to swim to a pole that supports the bridge and then slid under the water. He was 27 years old.

Some suicides seem preordained -- or at least planned with determination and care. That was not the case with Henderson. True, he was a mess, physically and emotionally -- and dangerous, too. He carried a box cutter in his pocket and kept a hatchet in his Mercury Cougar. Once he got into a fight at home with his brother, Garland Sharpe. The fight was so savage, Sharpe barely survived. Henderson, who was 5-foot-11 and weighed 160 pounds, reached for a 10-pound weight during the brawl. Luckily, their mother, Diana Henderson, moved it out of the way. Otherwise, says Sharpe, "I probably wouldn't be here."

Henderson was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to medical records that his mother showed to a reporter. He had also made it clear through his conversations, remarks to therapists, and frequent, violent outbursts that he was having problems. At times, his efforts to reach out to people seemed clumsy, even childish, but the message was clear: He could not manage on his own.

continue reading

With Veteran's Day upon us, I find it a tragedy that so many are not receiving the help they need.

I personally do not agree with any war. But I do support the men and women who serve. They have laid down their lives for our country. Only to have our country ignore them once they return home. Get involved to honor the vets.


While doing this post originally, I was focusing on the aspect of the mental health woes of our current vets. I have since heard from readers of this blog outraged because the above article states the following:

The recent failures of the VA are all the more striking because the agency has been acclaimed for its record of health care. In Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care Is Better Than Yours, author Phillip Longman says the VA received a 2006 award from Harvard for "innovation in government," quoting university officials who describe it as a "model for what modern health care management and delivery should look like."

Apparently I overlooked a very important piece of this article. I personally feel our VA system of care is not good at all. The readers who contacted me had horror stories to share of their loved ones suffering at the hands of the VA. If you have some stories to share feel free to email them to me and I will post them.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Heal the Hidden Wounds of War

from Mental Health America:

They are wounds you can’t see. Thousands of our veterans return every day from Iraq and Afghanistan with psychological, invisible wounds that are just as real as physical injuries. They affect their daily lives and cause anxiety, pain, and suffering for veterans and their families.

These veterans must then wage another battle here at home to obtain proper treatment and care from the government and deal with the stigma and difficulties of mental heath problems. Nearly one in five combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), putting them at higher risk for suicide. The number of suicides among veterans of those wars may exceed the combat death toll because of inadequate mental health care. The Veterans Affairs Department estimates that 18 veterans commit suicide each day.

That’s a national tragedy. But we can help veterans triumph over these problems.

Give Our Veterans a Healthy Homecoming

Our vets deserve a healthy homecoming. This Veterans Day, we are reminded of the huge sacrifices made by our servicemen and women. Mental Health America is working every day to help rebuild lives and fulfill the duty we owe our veterans and their families.

  • We established Operation Healthy Reunions, a first-of-its-kind program that provides education and helps bust the stigma of mental health issues among soldiers, their families, and medical staff to ensure that a greater number of military families receive the prompt and high-quality care they deserve.

  • We’ve spoken out in the halls of Congress on the need to expand government services to our heroes, to bring care closer to where they live and deliver help to their families.

  • And we won passage of mental health parity legislation, which will help veterans of the National Guard and Reserves who later become employed in the private sector but won’t receive government health care for the rest of their lives.

Join Our Campaign

Now we need your help so we can continue our work. We’ve launched the Campaign for a Healthy Homecoming to ensure we have the resources to serve our veterans. Your contribution of $100, $50, or even $25 will help us win expanded care and greater awareness of the problems these brave men and women face.

Join us so we can give veterans a healthy homecoming. Please give today.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can


I never thought I would see it in my lifetime.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Voting is a right and a responsibility. Do not let anything keep you from exercising it. Want you join me as we become a part of history in the making. I'll be voting for Obama. I feel he is the best candidate to steer us in this time of crisis.


Your country needs you now.