It is with a grateful heart that I thank everyone who took part in our annual luncheon, A Time for Hope & Healing with Kevin Briggs on October 13th. From the volunteers, to our sponsors, our staff, our board, the first responders in attendance, and Kevin himself; we had such a successful day raising awareness about suicide prevention, and starting the much needed conversation about saving lives by reaching those in crisis sooner and connecting them with the resources they need. We couldn’t have done this without each and every one of you who attended or helped out in some way. Thank you!
Kevin’s message of hope was powerful as he talked about his experience with suicide from a professional and personal perspective. Not only has Kevin had dramatic first-hand encounters with individuals attempting to take their lives on the Golden Gate Bridge as a California Highway Patrol Sargeant, but he’s had an eye-opening experience with his teenage son who was voicing his suicidal ideations in their family backyard after a stressful time of transition in his life. Kevin’s expertise on how to approach a crisis situation, signs to watch for in someone’s life, and questions not to say and ask someone who may be suicidal, were all things that attendees were able to walk away with. They also had the opportunity to purchase Kevin’s book, Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge, to get a more in-depth look at his experiences, as well as have the book signed by Kevin and take pictures with him.
Four hundred and twenty people (which was over a 25% increase in attendance from last year!) joined together to show not only their support for the foundation, but also their support in building awareness of this crucial topic in our community. Suicide remains a significant public health problem in our community, and we are losing far too many individuals from all walks of life to suicide. My hope is that we have finally hit a breaking point as a society where real change can be made, and a significant amount of lives can be saved. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that more than 41,000 suicides are happening annually in our country, and twice as many people die by suicide each year than by homicide. The NIMH goes on to say through their research, that the death rate of motor vehicle accidents, AIDS, and cancer have all seen a substantive decrease over time, whereas the death rate from suicide has seen no substantive decrease in over two decades. We are beyond the time for change and for communities to start taking notice of this growing problem.
Here at The Kim Foundation we are doing our part in working to reduce suicides through awareness programs such as our annual luncheon and A Voice for Hope & Healing where we go out into the community and do presentations for school, church, and business groups on suicide prevention, as well as our LOSS program. We are also working on our strategic planning process for the next three to five years, where a significant part of our resources will be dedicated to this issue, not only the awareness piece, but also, how we can facilitate tangible and measurable change. We will continue building efforts such as A Time for Hope & Healing, and thank everyone for doing their part in making this year’s event such a success.
If you didn’t have an opportunity to purchase Kevin’s book, we still have some copies available for $20 each, just reach out to the foundation office at 402.891.6911. If you have additional questions or comments about the luncheon or our suicide prevention efforts, I encourage you to reach out as well. Thank you for your continued support and collaboration on an issue we continue working tirelessly to facilitate change for our community and for those impacted by suicide.
Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation
Julia received her J.D. from Creighton University in 2005, and her BS in Journalism from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2002. She has been with The Kim Foundation for three years, and prior to that worked for local non-profits doing development, strategic planning, communications and advancement. She has a passion for helping people and improving lives, and serves as an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the executive committee of the Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, RESPECT Advisory Committee, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition and the Adolescent Mental Health Coalition. She also serves on the Women’s Fund Circles Board.