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POST A JOKE AND SUPPORT SAN FRANCISCO SUICIDE PREVENTION

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (April 21, 2020) — April 22, 2020, is the day when Felton Institute’s San Francisco Suicide Prevention (SFSP) would have held its annual Laughs for Life Fundraiser, honoring those who are providing essential services in the mental health community and featuring comedic performances from headliners who believe that laughter is among the best medicines.

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SAN FRANCISCO SUICIDE PREVENTION AND FELTON INSTITUTE MERGE TO AUGMENT SUICIDE PREVENTION AND MENTAL HEALTH

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – San Francisco Suicide Prevention has now merged into Felton Institute, uniting two of the most enduring mental health and crisis intervention agencies in Northern California. This innovative merger places suicide prevention in a broad continuum of care and extends the reach of both agencies to serve communities in need.

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Client Satisfaction Survey

The Laughs for Life Experience

By: Dan Ryan

Somehow, Laughs for Life always seems to sneak up on me. I spend just about the whole year thinking about it, and more than half the year planning for it. But when May rolls around, I’m invariably equal parts excited, nervous, and surprised that we’ve started counting the number of days, not months or weeks, until event day.

Despite the huge amount of work that goes into Laughs, I’ve loved the gala from the first one I attended. This might have had something to do with the fact that I love a good excuse to look fancy, which is not something San Francisco offers a whole lot of. And at Laughs I get to do that while eating delicious food and listening to standup comedy no less!

Some of you might know that our Executive Director, Eve Meyer, used to perform standup comedy (rumor has it that she still does sets around the city). And while it would be hard to convince her to come out of comedic retirement, I’m thrilled with the comedians who will be supplying the Laughs for the event.

After spending quite a few working hours watching standup routines from various bay area comics (it was grueling work, requiring intense focus and determination), we settled on three of the funniest.

Torio Van Grol is headlining the comedy acts this year, back by popular demand. I worked check in at last year’s at Laughs for Life and listened to Torio’s set from outside the ballroom. On multiple occasions I laughed so hard that I failed to notice guests patiently waiting to be checked into the event. Hopefully I can still hear the sets from my post at the Julia Morgan Ballroom, although my work might suffer as a result.

The silent auction section is a favorite of the more competitive types. I know this from personal experience, having been boxed out two different times the past two years (those SFJAZZ tickets from last year should be mine!). Stay vigilant friends, and watch out for people who might swoop in and one-up your bid during dinner.

Although it might be hard to motivate yourself to move during dinner. Chef Larry Finn, formerly the executive chef at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel and Scala’s Bistro, is the culinary director at the Julia Morgan Ballroom. For you Iron Chef fans out there, Larry worked with Masaharu Morimoto at his restaurant in New York prior to his move to San Francisco. The staff who attended the pre-event tastings for the Laughs for Life menu woke up three days later from a food-induced coma. The rest of us are excited to see what all the fuss is about!

Most importantly, I’m excited to celebrate the SFSP community and the incredible effort that goes into the work that we do. Laughs for Life is a reminder that our community consists of so many more people than just our small staff and the wonderful volunteers who give their time and skills every single day. We see volunteers come in and out, and the staff members see one another all throughout the week. But it’s rare to have so many of the people who support SFSP together in one place.

Clients aren’t always in a place where they’re able to show gratitude, so to have a whole room full of people showing that they support and care deeply about the work we do is powerfully motivating. I’ve always thought of Laughs for Life as a chance to celebrate all the positivity that results from this community we’ve built.

And I’m excited to celebrate with you!

Register for 2017 Laughs for Life on May 4th at the Julia Morgan Ballroom HERE.

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Jeremy shares his path to SFSP

Maybe you are reading this because you care about your own relationship to suicidal feelings or because you have been the caretaker of others going through similar struggles. This type of energy, that caring energy, is what got this agency going and still moves us forward today. I chose to start volunteering on the SFSP HIV Nightline in late 2003 because I had been looking for a place to volunteer for sometime. I chose the HIV Nightline because I myself had contracted HIV and a friend invited me to join with him and I’m glad I did. At that time, I did not think that I would be staying with the agency for years nor did I anticipate it would lead to my career. What is nice about this process is that it was organic and so the fit felt right.

I would say I was pretty open minded and had compassion for others when I came to SFSP, but the depth of my compassion and my understanding of the diverse and unique challenges people face has certainly grown during my time here. SFSP and the wonderful environment the staff and volunteers create have allowed me to develop self compassion and self awareness to a much higher degree than before I came here. I can’t really say how long I will stay with SFSP, I guess it is until it doesn’t feel right anymore.

People can feel suicidal for so many reasons, like housing or job loss, death of a loved one or pet, or a decline in health. I too struggled with suicidal thoughts when coming out as gay and when testing positive for HIV. I lost social support and opportunities at each of those times in my life. Often times it is in enduring that emotional pain while feeling isolated that suicidal thoughts come into play. Isolation alone can become an aching pain that becomes overwhelming. For many, suicide is the mind’s escape route during that time of unbearable suffering. After knowing that pain or surviving a suicide attempt, it becomes very rewarding to provide a non-judgemental ear and be that kind soul to someone who is hurting. I know those that have contact with us feel less alone after doing so. We do that in many ways, through outreach and on our phone lines.

Another way we do this is through social media. We sometimes have exchanges with those on facebook and twitter. It doesn’t always have to be an exchange though, we feel that when someone sees one of our posts they feel a part of that same connectedness.   When I create social media content I try to think of ways to engage followers in self care activities, provide validation, raise awareness or reduce stigma. I also try to create content that is accessible to someone who may not be able to leave the house or even their bed. Depression, anxiety and other conditions can limit some people from getting outside so I sometimes will do a series of photos from a walk in a nice place. Making something accessible to someone really conveys how much you care about them. I feel we do this on social media in ways we cannot if we rely only on someone initiating contact with us.

Another way social media has been a great tool is in fundraising and being able to respond very quickly to social events. These advantages don’t come without their own challenges however. Because of the nature of our services we have to remain vigilant despite having a disclosure about our social media platform not being a crisis service. Sometimes people reach out to us on social media who are in crisis and we want to connect them to our hotline or other appropriate services.   Having a small staff means that myself and one or two other staff members keep an eye on this 24/7. We also find that our volunteer pool and former volunteers stay more connected because of facebook and other social media which is a wonderful thing!

Have you checked out our facebook and twitter yet?

Jeremie_blog

by: Jeremy Garza, Overnight Coordinator

SFSP Blog

Enjoy letters from our staff, messages from clients and volunteers, and other thoughtful essays!
Jeremy shares his path to SFSP - February, 2017 A Letter from the Executive Director - January 10th, 2017.

Suicide Notes Infographic



http://www.socialworkdegreecenter.com/suicide-notes/

No Laughing Matter




San Francisco and the world lost Robin Williams, one of its most beloved figures, to suicide Monday. Today we are all asking the same questions that families ask after a suicide: How could this have happened? Why didn't we see it coming? Why couldn't we have helped?
In the United States each year, there are 39,000 suicide deaths. That compares with 16,000 homicides and 33,000 highway vehicle deaths. How can we lose so many people to suicide and not know about it? What makes this happen and what can we do to stop it?
Suicide is the result of pain. Suicide happens when people are in so much pain that they kill their bodies to kill the pain. That pain may be emotional - it usually is in the United States - or it may be economic, physical or social pain (shame). The common denominator is that even though it is unbearable, it is largely invisible. Does this mean that there is nothing we can do?
At a moment when we have all lost someone we love to suicide, it is important to learn and understand that each of us is capable of saving someone else's life. Each of us who has felt invisible pain of any kind is an especially important force for saving the life of another person, who may save the life of yet another person in the future.
This is the moment when we can realize that at any given time 1 out of 5 of us is in pain. We can look for this pain, even though our culture trains us to ignore it. We are taught that it is a sign of weakness, of being unfit. We know now that it can exist anywhere for anyone - even for a man who has consistently given us joy.
We were captivated by the high energy characters Williams played, and by his perceptive and agile performances. Yet behind the laughs, information from Williams' publicist hints he possibly battled both severe depression and drug and alcohol addictions.
What do we look for? We look for people who talk about wanting to die by suicide. We are taught by our culture not to listen to them because they are trying to "attract attention. " But when one is drowning, one should be trying to attract attention. So we ask about the pain and we listen. We tell them we are here for them and we don't tell them that they shouldn't be feeling all this pain.
We don't even give them advice.
We also look for people who understand that suicide is a big decision and, who, rather than make it themselves, leave the decision up to the universe. They may, for example, hint about suicide - saying that they will be better off dead. Or they may act out their intent to die - giving away belongings or pets, making final arrangements, writing or painting about their death. We ask them about their pain and we listen. They are relieved that we notice and they can live. It is, for them, a real gift from us.
Some people are capable of using pain for laughter. Today perhaps each of us will use our grief to save a life.

When you need a friend

Local suicide crisis line centers are always a source of support for helping a friend through a crisis. Their telephone and computer services are staffed by local volunteers who can offer advice and the phone numbers of community resources. San Francisco Suicide Prevention offers resources at www.sfsuicide.org.
Crisis lines anywhere in the U.S. can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255.
Eve R. Meyer is the executive director of San Francisco Suicide Prevention.

No Laughing Matter




San Francisco and the world lost Robin Williams, one of its most beloved figures, to suicide Monday. Today we are all asking the same questions that families ask after a suicide: How could this have happened? Why didn't we see it coming? Why couldn't we have helped?
In the United States each year, there are 39,000 suicide deaths. That compares with 16,000 homicides and 33,000 highway vehicle deaths. How can we lose so many people to suicide and not know about it? What makes this happen and what can we do to stop it?
Suicide is the result of pain. Suicide happens when people are in so much pain that they kill their bodies to kill the pain. That pain may be emotional - it usually is in the United States - or it may be economic, physical or social pain (shame). The common denominator is that even though it is unbearable, it is largely invisible. Does this mean that there is nothing we can do?
At a moment when we have all lost someone we love to suicide, it is important to learn and understand that each of us is capable of saving someone else's life. Each of us who has felt invisible pain of any kind is an especially important force for saving the life of another person, who may save the life of yet another person in the future.
This is the moment when we can realize that at any given time 1 out of 5 of us is in pain. We can look for this pain, even though our culture trains us to ignore it. We are taught that it is a sign of weakness, of being unfit. We know now that it can exist anywhere for anyone - even for a man who has consistently given us joy.
We were captivated by the high energy characters Williams played, and by his perceptive and agile performances. Yet behind the laughs, information from Williams' publicist hints he possibly battled both severe depression and drug and alcohol addictions.
What do we look for? We look for people who talk about wanting to die by suicide. We are taught by our culture not to listen to them because they are trying to "attract attention. " But when one is drowning, one should be trying to attract attention. So we ask about the pain and we listen. We tell them we are here for them and we don't tell them that they shouldn't be feeling all this pain.
We don't even give them advice.
We also look for people who understand that suicide is a big decision and, who, rather than make it themselves, leave the decision up to the universe. They may, for example, hint about suicide - saying that they will be better off dead. Or they may act out their intent to die - giving away belongings or pets, making final arrangements, writing or painting about their death. We ask them about their pain and we listen. They are relieved that we notice and they can live. It is, for them, a real gift from us.
Some people are capable of using pain for laughter. Today perhaps each of us will use our grief to save a life.

When you need a friend

Local suicide crisis line centers are always a source of support for helping a friend through a crisis. Their telephone and computer services are staffed by local volunteers who can offer advice and the phone numbers of community resources. San Francisco Suicide Prevention offers resources at www.sfsuicide.org.
Crisis lines anywhere in the U.S. can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255.
Eve R. Meyer is the executive director of San Francisco Suicide Prevention.

Golden Gate Bridge board OKs $76 million for suicide barrier

Updated 8:20 am, Saturday, June 28, 2014

Over the years, hundreds of people have leaped to their deaths from the Golden Gate Bridge into the San Francisco Bay. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

Over the years, hundreds of people have leaped to their deaths from the Golden Gate Bridge into the San Francisco Bay. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
The decades-long effort to build a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge succeeded Friday as the transportation district's Board of Birectors OKd funding for nets that will be installed about three years from now.
"We did it," shouted a woman in the midst of a giant group hug, moments after the board of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District voted unanimously to approve a $76 million funding plan for installation of steel-cable nets 20 feet beneath the east and west edges of the bridge that are intended to deter people from leaping to their deaths or catch them if they do.
Supporters of the suicide net - most of them family members of people who have jumped to their deaths from the bridge - knew that the board was expected to finally approve the barrier after decades of death and debate. Still, more than a dozen, some clutching photographs of their deceased sons, daughters, partners and friends, spoke of the unending pain of losing loved ones to suicide and urged directors to approve the plan.
"The time of healing can only begin when the steady drip-drip-drip of bodies into the raging waters has stopped," said Dana Barks of Napa, whose son, Donovan, jumped to his death in 2008.
According to the Bridge Rail Foundation, which has worked for a barrier, at least 1,600 people have jumped to their deaths from the Golden Gate Bridge, including 46 last year. Many of their family members have joined the campaign for some kind of suicide barrier on the bridge. Some barrier supporters have become familiar faces as they've returned to speak to the bridge board time and again over the years.
After reading a series of Chronicle stories about bridge suicides in the 1970s, Roger Grimes started campaigning for a barrier, walking regularly on the bridge with a sign reading, "Please care: support a suicide barrier," as well as attending numerous meetings.

'It had to happen'

While he was often discouraged by the lack of support, he said after the vote, "I knew someday it would happen. It was so wrong. It had to happen."
Although the funding is lined up and the net is mostly designed, it will take about three years before it is built and installed, said Denis Mulligan, bridge district general manager.

Injured but alive

The net design was chosen out of five potential suicide barriers - the rest were all 10- to 12-foot fences or walls - in 2008. Two nets, made of thick steel cables, will be stretched the 1.7-mile length of the bridge two stories beneath its public sidewalks. The presence of the net, bridge officials hope, will deter anyone from jumping.
But if they do, Mulligan said, they'll probably be injured but alive. The net, suspended from posts, will have a slightly upward slope, and will collapse a bit if someone lands in it, making it difficult for the jumper to climb out. The bridge district will deploy a retrieval device to pluck jumpers from the net.
Nobody voiced any objections to the plan at Friday's meeting, but in the past critics have complained that a barrier would mar the scenic bridge's appearance and that it would simply drive suicidal people elsewhere.

Deter jumpers

Dr. Mel Blaustein, the medical director of psychiatry at St. Francis Hospital, said research shows that people deterred by barriers from jumping to their deaths do not go to other, nearby sites.
"We have scientific evidence of that," he said.
Suicide barriers on other bridges have proved to be successful in deterring jumpers, according to a study released by barrier backers. At the Ellington Street Bridge in Washington, D.C., suicides dropped from 25 in seven years to one in the five years after a barrier was erected. A span in Switzerland with a net saw suicides drop from 2.5 per year to none.
In approving the spending plan, the directors committed to spend $20 million in bridge tolls to the plan, something they had previously opposed. The rest of the money will come from $49 million in federal funds steered toward the barrier by Caltrans and theMetropolitan Transportation Commission, and $7 million in state mental health funds.

'Right thing to do'

Mulligan, in a report to the board, said building the barrier "simply is the right thing to do at this time."
Just before the vote, Director Janet Reilly, who helped campaign for barrier funds, voiced her agreement.
"It's not every day you have an opportunity to save a life, and hardly ever that you have an opportunity to save many lives," she said. "Today is that day."
Michael Cabanatuan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:[email protected] Twitter: @ctuan