What A Month!

We are so humbled by the outpouring of support and feedback that we’ve received this month after all the coverage WOWT provided to build awareness about suicide prevention. Most importantly, I want to thank the survivors, partners, and advocates who gave their time, and shared their stories (some for the first time) so that others may learn from their experiences. The calls and emails we received after several of the stories were heartwarming. So many wanted to share their stories, know how they can volunteer and give back, and some just voiced their surprise of how suicide truly is a public health problem in our community.

I think each community that experiences suicides of all ages, especially youth, finally hits a point where people start realizing there is a significant problem and people need to work together to fix it. I feel like we are at that point in the Omaha metro area now. Since this coverage aired, we’ve started a Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition (Coalition), which includes law enforcement, school officials, advocates, providers, community members, and survivors. Together we are going to tackle the difficult issue of suicide in our community and together we are going to find a solution so that we stop losing our youth and community members to suicide. If you are interested in joining or learning more about the Coalition please contact me at jhebenstreit@thekimfoundation.org or 402.891.6997.

We will also be working with Region 6 Behavioral Healthcare and WOWT to launch a community wide suicide prevention campaign in late summer or early fall that will continue shedding light on the subject of suicide, but more importantly, connect those who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or depression with the resources they need in our community. If you would like to participate or contribute to the campaign in some way, please use the contact information above to contact me. We thank you for your interest! Watch for more to come on this campaign!

If you missed any of the WOWT coverage, the link below has each of the pieces compiled in one place. Please check it out and share with others! http://www.wowt.com/directory/377607241.html

Next week I will be traveling with six other Nebraskans to Washington, D.C. for the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Hill Day. We have meetings arranged with each of our Senators and Representatives and/or their staff, and will participate in the longest standing state breakfast (the Nebraska Breakfast) in the Senate Building on Wednesday. We will join approximately 800 other behavioral health advocates from across the country who are all there with the same goal – to facilitate change in the behavioral health arena. I’m honored to serve as the State Captain for Nebraska and I will report back next month on how the trip goes!

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Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation

Julia Hebenstreit is the Executive Director of The Kim Foundation. She 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 since 2011, 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 on the Executive Committee for Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, as the 2015 Hill Day State Captain for the state of Nebraska, and as an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, BHECN Advisory Committee, RESPECT Advisory Board, Connections Advisory Board and the Project Propel Planning Group.

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