suicide prevention awareness month featured image
7 Ways Wellpath Recognized Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

7 Ways Wellpath recognized Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Wellpath appreciates everything our team does, every day, for the health and safety of our patients. Above all, it takes the dedication of our entire company, working together, to reduce suicide rates in our patient population. In honor of September’s Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Wellpath’s Zero Suicide Initiative Committee created a valuable learning program for our company. As a result, we continued to educate our nearly 16,000 employees on suicide and suicide prevention. Our theme, “Shine a Light on Suicide Prevention,” focused on illuminating suicide risk and protective factors, particularly in our patients, team members, partners, families, friends, and ourselves.

For the entire month of September 2019, Wellpath committed to shining a light on suicide prevention. Here are seven ways Wellpath recognized Suicide Prevention Awareness Month:

#1. Shine a light on suicide prevention

Our facilities around the nation received special posters outlining tips for suicide prevention (in addition the suicide prevention posters we post in our facilities year round). These posters hung in locations seen by staff and patients regularly. Furthermore, we distributed pens (with lights) to Wellpath staff members and partners. In this case, the pens serve as a reminder to shine a light on suicide prevention.

suicide prevention awareness month 2019
Shelby County, TN shining a light on suicide prevention

#2. Educate and inspire via Wellpath’s Zero Suicide Initiative

Wellpath’s Zero Suicide Initiative is an aspirational challenge dedicated to improving patient safety, transforming care and preventing suicides. Learn more about this initiative in this video featuring Charlene Donavan, Vice President of Behavioral Health Services at Wellpath. Charlene and her team head up this program and we’re proud of the impact they’re making.


#3. Participate in “Out of the Darkness” Walks

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month community events are a great way to shine a light on suicide prevention.

The Out of the Darkness Community and Overnight walks benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) by raising awareness on suicide and depression, raising money for research and education to prevent suicide from taking place, and providing assistance and a safe outlet for survivors of suicide.

For example, our partners and patients at South Florida State Hospital (SFSH) had their first Out of the Darkness Walk. SFSH staff and patients created signs with messages dedicated to those whom they are walking for. SFSH’s Director of Psychology & Forensic Services, Sheila Santiago Schmitt shared her experience, “…it was quite touching to see how important it was for them to hold that sign.”

Additionally, the medical director and staff psychologist, Dr. Jordan and Dr. Mendez, gave thoughtful speeches full of inspiration and hope. Some patients were visibly moved by their talks. Furthermore, SFSH staff raised $400 via an honor color bracelets fundraiser and donated the funds to the AFSP.

South Florida State Hospital out of the darkness walk


#4. Hear the firsthand experience from a suicide prevention advocate and survivor

TEDx speaker, Kevin Berthia, delivered keynote talks to Wellpath’s leadership teams across the nation

Correspondingly for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, our leadership teams around the nation had the opportunity to hear a keynote speech from suicide prevention advocate, Kevin Berthia. Kevin’s message centers on how anyone can impact people’s lives just by listening and caring. As an example, Kevin shares his personal story how a total stranger listening helped him stop himself from suicide.

In March of 2005, Kevin Berthia (pictured below) was going through a difficult time. His daughter was born prematurely, and medical costs for her care totaled nearly $250,000. Simultaneously blinded by debt, Kevin fell into a deep depression and decided to end his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Thankfully someone spoke up moments before he jumped. Kevin recalled, “He snapped me back to reality. I was on that ledge for 92 minutes, and for 89 of those, I just talked. I got everything out, and he listened without judging. The only reason I’m here today is because someone listened.”

Without a doubt, everyone in attendance was profoundly moved by Kevin Berthia’s story and message.

kevin berthia suicide prevention talk


#5. Month-long social media campaign to raise awareness

The Wellpath social media team created many pieces of Suicide Prevention Awareness content and shared them across Wellpath’s Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles throughout the entire month of September. Below is a social video shared during World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10.


#6. Host a companywide webinar featuring an expert on suicide prevention

Psychologist and leading expert on suicide, Dr. Thomas Joiner, shares his expertise with Wellpath

On Thursday, September 26, Wellpath hosted a companywide suicide prevention webinar featuring psychologist and leading expert on suicide, Dr. Thomas Joiner. Dr. Joiner educated our team on many topics, including suicidal behavior, approaches to suicide risk assessment and suicide prevention. Coupled with his expertise in the treatment of suicidal behavior, he also illustrated the risk factors for death by suicide. Dr. Joiner’s presentation was poignant and provided throughout our company.


#7. Take responsibility and be a “noticer”

How can you make a difference during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and beyond?

IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, DO SOMETHING. Be a “noticer” by watching and listening for bad news. Ask, “are you okay?”, make eye contact, be aware of your body language, then really LISTEN. These actions can help save a life.

In conclusion, stop and take a few minutes to look around and look in the mirror. Let’s shine a light where there is darkness, and together we can make a difference.

Share this post: