There is hope: The SAM Foundation launches new campaign

The SAM Foundation is named in honor of Sam P. Johnson, pictured left, who passed in 2002.

September is national suicide prevention month, and The SAM Foundation is launching the #ThereIsHope campaign as a means to raise awareness for early signs of suicide with loved ones. According to samfound.org, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages, and for the state of Alabama, 786 people die by suicide (two per day), as of 2016. Hope is also serving as an acronym for:

• Here are the facts

• Observe the signs

• Prepare to ask

• Explore your resources

The campaign itself will be conducted over social media and users will need to post the tag line “I lost my friend to suicide. Please join The SAM Foundation’s efforts in preventing another tragedy like ours. #SamsStoryLives #ThereIsHope.”

“We’re asking people to post on their social media site a picture of them holding a sign, either in support of suicide prevention awareness…or they can be specific, and have it say ‘in loving memory of my brother,’ or anyone else they lost personally to suicide,” Padgett says.

Anna Padgett is the community relations developer for The SAM Foundation, and this will be the first time launching the campaign. The goal of the campaign is $20,000, and Padgett encourages anyone who has been affected by suicide to participate. The goal is to also train as many people as possible to better handle those who are suicidal. “Our goal is to train as many people in a gatekeeper training to be able to recognize signs and symptoms of suicide in order to intervene, and help prevent a suicide.” Gatekeeper training is, according to the Suicide Prevention Center (SPRC), a type of training method to quickly identify warning signs in potentially suicidal individuals.

Padgett also says that there are a wide variety of courses and classes for anyone, from middle school and up, including the ‘Question. Persuade. Refer.’ course (QPR). QPR is training aimed at recognizing warning signs of suicide, how to talk and to refer at-risk individuals to appropriate resources, according to samfound.org. The dates for the training are Wednesday, Sept. 8th, at 11 a.m. CST; Monday, Sept. 13, 8 p.m. CST; Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 8 a.m. CST.

Julie Smith is the CEO and director of The SAM Foundation, and she has said that the foundation not only seeks to raise awareness, but it also provides training resources. Smith has become a very vocal advocate for improved training for mental health professionals.

The Sam Foundation began when Nicole Goggans and Julie Smith’s brother, Sam Johnson, died by suicide in December of 2002. The goal of the foundation is to provide resources for families and loved ones who have lost someone to suicide through awareness and education.

“Our hope is to change the way our communities view mental health and serve as a resource to those who have been affected by suicide,” according to samfound.org. The foundation’s target areas include DeKalb, Jackson, Madison, Lawrence, Limestone and Marshall Counties in North Alabama and Fulton County in Georgia.

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