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Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention

Volunteers focus lawmakers’ attention on suicide prevention
The Capitol lawn was covered with tombstones symbolizing Washington lives lost to suicide in just one year. Red signs signify suicide deaths by firearms.(Photo by Katie M. Simmons)

By Sydney Friend Sifferman

Personal stories of grief and loss teamed up with messages of hope and proposals for change at Forefront’s third annual Suicide Prevention Education Day, Jan. 25, 2016 in Olympia. The stage was set with a striking memorial of 1,111 tombstones on the Capitol lawn. Although the tombstones were made of cardboard, the emotional impact was real because they symbolized Washington residents who died by suicide.


Kathleen Gilligan helps set out small tombstones on the Capitol lawn to call for suicide prevention legislation that could spare others the pain of losing a loved one. (Photo by David Friedle)

By Sue Lockett John

Kathleen Gilligan met her Washington state legislators for the first time last February. Fresh from Forefront’s advocacy training, she knew she had only a few minutes to tell how she had lost her bright, talented, fun-loving 14-year old son to suicide. “I had my points laid out and told them why we needed to increase education [for health providers],” she recalls. “They asked me some questions, but made me feel very comfortable.” The bill passed with overwhelming support from both parties.

Stacey Paulson of Marysville and Patricia Bravo of Issaquah met face-to-face after six months of a Forefront Cares journey through grief. (Photo by Stephen Paul Miller)

By Marny Lombard

Stacey Paulson introduces Patricia Bravo simply. “She’s my ray of sunshine,” he says, and the wattage of his smile backs up his words. Stacey and Patricia each lost a parent to suicide. They also shared a six-month journey as partners in the Forefront Cares mentoring program.

Stacey’s mother died by suicide last summer. Patricia lost her father to suicide many years ago as a young adult. Last spring, she began volunteering as a mentor for Forefront Cares. All mentoring is done by telephone.


Insights Blog

Insight Blog

Jan 31, 2016 -- I lost my mother to a postpartum mood disorder when I was 2 years old. Two years is longer than many children have with mothers who suffer from such disorders and end up killing themselves — and, of course, the time leading up to their deaths is fraught with difficulties, for the mothers and... more
Jan 20, 2016 -- As many people have heard, there’s a new movie about Japan’s suicide forest called “The Forest.” Although some may like it, there are controversies over how the movie sensationalizes suicide—and how it presents people taking their lives. Suicide is something that people need to take... more
Jan 12, 2016 -- Dear PBS, David Brooks’ [Jan. 8, 2016, NewsHour] comments on the potential impact of gun violence legislation were misleading and dismissive about suicide gun deaths. His comment that "the only difference that gun legislation might make was related to suicides" was dismissive and... more

First Person

First Person

Understanding why adoptees are at higher risk for suicide
By Maureen McCauley Evans, M.A. Most people view adoption as a happy, even blessed, event. A child finds a new family: nothing but joy, right? Adoption can be happy, a blessing, joyful. For some adoptees, though, adoption is complex, and can be filled with as much loss as love.... more
78 years after Hans Maier’s death, his legacy is recalled, renewed & honored
I never met my grandfather, Hans Maier, who died before I was born as a result of suicide in 1937 when he was 49 years old.  I was surprised and amazed when I learned that so many years after he “gave up on his life,” his legacy was being honored in Frankfurt where he had lived and worked... more

Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention