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Project Semicolon – Hannah’s Story

May 22nd, 2017 - Brett Diaz

My name is Hannah, and this is my story.

When I was 16 years old, my aunt took her own life as the result of an untreated mental illness. I tried to ask questions, and talk to people about how I was feeling, and how my aunt’s death affected me. But I soon realized that talking about suicide and mental illness made people extremely uncomfortable. I knew nothing about suicide or mental illness other than what pop culture and the media showed me, so I was determined to learn as much as I could about it.

What I learned was people who suffer from mental health issues including depression, anxiety, personality disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, as well as addictions, are at an increased risk of suicide compared to those who do not suffer from mental illness. However, that does not mean people who are not experiencing mental health issues are immune from suicidal thoughts and/or suicide attempts. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 40,000 people in the United States die from suicide every year.

I also came across a nonprofit organization called Project Semicolon, whose mission is “to help reduce the incidents of suicide in the world through connected community and greater access to information and resources.” Their mission is based on a belief that suicide is preventable, and their goal is to raise awareness about suicide prevention and other mental health struggles. Their name is based on the theory that authors use semicolons when they could end a sentence but choose not to do so.

Since my aunt’s death due to suicide, I have become passionate about educating the community about suicide prevention and mental illness. Learning about mental illness and suicide prevention is what drove me to pursue a degree in social work and brought me to my current position at Goodman Jewish Family Services. The more I learned, the more I realized the importance of education and knowledge in preventing suicide. The semicolon is a constant reminder for me to break the taboo surrounding suicide and mental illness with education and awareness.

If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health issues or other life challenges, please contact Goodman JFS at 954- 370-2140.  Our agency recognizes these challenges and offers a clinical counseling program in a sensitive and caring atmosphere that is unmatched in Broward County.

If you are having active thoughts about suicide, please call 911, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or go to your nearest emergency room.

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