Samaritans Quilt to be Hung in Massachusetts Statehouse

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(Boston, MA) – An autographed quilt constructed by a former Samaritans Boston Marathon runner and her sister will be hung in the Massachusetts Statehouse April 1 – Marathon Monday on April 20. The quilt features the autographs of several famous Boston Marathon runners, sports stars, and noteworthy celebrities.

Tricia Pierson ran the 2014 Boston Marathon as a member of the Samaritans team in support of the organization’s suicide prevention services and awareness programs. When she began training in 2010, as a fundraiser, she and her sister Lissa Pierson decided to create a quilt featuring the signatures of prominent Boston figures.

The duo created mailing kits, containing fabric squares and return envelopes, to send to possible contributors and attended various charity events to collect autographs. After the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013, Tricia and Lissa extended the list of candidates to include the signatures of those affected by the bombing. In all, they collected 182 signatures.withoutblack

Notable autographs featured on the quilt include Brady, Belichick, Bird, Orr, Papi, and Chara. The signed autograph squares were used to frame large applique blocks depicting Boston landmarks.

The quilt measures 74 x 82 inches and required 500 hours to make. Lissa Pierson designed and created the quilt. A quilter for 30 years, this is Lissa’s second ‘capitol’ quilt. A quilt she created for Quilts of Valor previously hung in the Hart Senate Office building in Washington, DC, before being awarded to a service person touched by war.

The duo’s mother, Pat Pierson acted as the “Artistic Director” throughout the project, providing advice and guidance. Timna Tarr, whose award-winning quilts have been featured in national shows and magazines, machine quilted the quilt. Pete and Diane Marsh served as the inspiration for this project, as well as a source of unending support.

The quilt’s debut at the Statehouse was initially prompted during a visit to Samaritans by the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Senator Joan Lovely.  From the second Senator Lovely admired the quilt and asked if it might be possible to have it hung in the Statehouse leading up to this year’s marathon.

The quilt will be hung in Nurse’s Hall from April 1 through Marathon Monday on April 20th. 15 dedicated members of Samaritans’ community will be running this year’s Boston Marathon. To learn more about them, visit www.crowdrise.com/samaritansboston2015.

More about Samaritans

Twitter: @SamaritansHope

Facebook: Samaritans, Inc.

For over 40 years, Samaritans, Inc. volunteers have answered more than 2.5 million phone calls. The agency has trained more than 4,500 volunteers and instructed more than 100,000 individuals through its Community Education and Outreach Program and has supported over 10,000 individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide.

For more information on Samaritans please visit www.samaritanshope.org, contact Samaritans’ business office at 617-536-2460 or info@samaritanshope.org.

Samaritans Statewide Toll Free Helpline: 877-870-HOPE (4673)

Doctors and Suicide

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American Doctors Are Killing Themselves and No One Is Talking About It

By Gabrielle Glaser
It’s estimated that at least 400 U.S. doctors kill themselves every year. Many are struggling with depression, anxiety, or addiction.

Greg Miday was a promising young doctor with a prestigious oncology fellowship in St. Louis. He spoke conversational Spanish, volunteered with the homeless, and played the piano as if he’d been born to it. He had rugged good looks, with dark wavy hair and a tall, athletic build. Everybody—siblings, patients, friends, nurses, professors, fellow doctors, and above all, his physician-parents—adored him.

On the evening of June 21, 2012, Greg drew a bath, lit candles, and put his iPod on speaker. He drank a copious quantity of vodka, and placed family photos on the ceramic ledge of the tub. At some point, he scribbled out a note that read:

“Dear Some,

My Family, I love you.
To others who have been good friends, I love you too.
This is just the end of the line for my particular train.
Earth wasn’t a particularly great place for me.
We’ll see what else is out there.
Will miss you all!
Am sorry for what it’s worth. Greg Miday.”

Read the entire article here:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/23/american-doctors-are-killing-themselves-and-no-one-is-talking-about-it.html

Graham Moores Powerful and Inspiring Message

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Last night the Oscars were filled with great performances and speeches. I haven’t ever watched an entire Oscar Show but was fully entertained throughout this one. One of the best moments was Graham Moore’s speech. Moore may or may not know, but this quick message and showcase of true courage and strength will help so many people out there struggling and is just another crack at breaking the stigma associated with suicide. Bravo to you Graham Moore!

“I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I’m standing here,” he said. “I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along.”

Full speech can be found here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/22/graham-moore-oscars_n_6733082.html

A moving entry for an Oscar: Saving vets from suicide

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY

Among the candidates vying for an Oscar on Sunday night is a powerful film that highlights the persistent and troubling trend of lives devastated by war – to the point of suicide.

No, not American Sniper, the box-office smash based on a true story about a Navy SEAL who piled up record kills while developing emotional trauma.

This movie is a 40-minute documentary filmed in an austere, cubicle-setting on the campus of a Department of Veterans Affairs center in Canandaigua, N.Y.

It is the VA suicide hotline center (800-273-8255), where staffers take 1,000 calls a day from veterans or servicemembers on the brink of self-destruction or family members terrified a suicide might occur .

The HBO-produced film, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, is an Oscar nominee for best short documentary. It has been picked as a potential winner by critics that include The New Yorker magazine.

“Whether we win or not, I just think it’s so great that it’s getting all this attention and that it’s going to help people call in,” says Julianne Mullane, acting director of the hotline operations. She says she’s putting on extra staff for the Oscars in case more calls are generated Sunday night.

Filmed over nine months, the documentary’s cameras simply bear witness to the desperation that plays out on one side of a telephone conversation.

There’s VA responder Darlene hunched over a notebook on her desk talking through her headset to a former Marine who fought in Afghanistan and can’t get images of dead bodies out of his head. “You have five children and you have a wife and you have a lot to live for,” she tells him.

Barbara speaks with an Iraq war vet suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Maureen talks to a veteran of Lebanon in 1983 – when the Marine barracks were bombed – after he had just finished off a bottle of vodka.

When situations turn critical, the camera cuts to emergency coordinators nearby who feverishly call police and emergency personnel to get them to the veteran’s home before it’s too late.

Between phone calls, Maureen concedes the frustrations of the work. “You can find reasons for living, reasons for not doing it. But ultimately the decision (to live or die) is theirs,” she says.

The VA reported last year that suicides among young veterans are increasing, a spillover of a persistent trend among active duty troops. Pentagon data from January show suicides by servicemembers have remained at record levels for five straight years, including 288 last year.

The call-in line, online chat rooms and texting at the crisis office are available to veterans, active-duty troops, members of the National Guard and reserve and their families.

Documentary producer Ellen Goosenberg Kent says she wasn’t sure what creative material her team would find when they approached the VA in 2012 about doing the film. But after satisfying VA concerns about protecting veteran identities, the filmmakers set up their cameras.

“It was hard work doing this documentary” because of privacy concerns, says suicide hotline founder Jan Kemp, now an associate director of the VA Center for Suicide Prevention. “There were many times when we felt like maybe we wanted to drop out.” But they made it work.

Kent says the filmmakers were surprised by the humanity displayed by VA employees in the center, many of them veterans or married to former servicemembers.

“What they were doing was giving people a reason to live,” she says. “They were just brilliant at realizing that there is shred of hope in this person, and we can build on that, we can keep them alive.”

Donor of the Day!

Today’s Donors of the Day go out to some of the most radical dudes I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and their awesome families.  I coached these guys when we were all Blues and will forever owe them my gratitude for always having a positive attitude and being such solid team players. I can say the same for their folks who have all been very supportive and helpful over the years. Congratulations on being today’s DODs!

Pete Olivier

 

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Pat Murray

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Sam Houston-Read1981879_10201911102453569_5882798517695421534_n

Grant Heckler

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Bill Miller10303747_10203234215968452_8198069692643403864_n 10330225_10152557550009218_5226718717065150396_n

Jeff Bellotti

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Jack McGowan 905479_442813842476094_11991783_o

Donor of the Day!

Today’s Donor of the Day goes to Meg Benesh! I should start off by saying that Meg is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Positive vibes radiate off of her everywhere she goes and there is never a dull moment (or a half drunk bud light) in sight when we have the chance to catch up! She is sincere, genuine, and intelligent. However, her ability to connect with people and turn a bad situation into a good one makes her one of a kind! Just recently Meg was sworn into the Massachusetts State Police which makes me very happy knowing the Commonwealth has someone like Meg working everyday to help the general public stay safe.

Tonight: The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act Becomes a Law

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Written by Steve Mongeau of Samaritas

Tonight, President Obama will sign the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act into law tonight!

This law will provide mental health professionals and organizations with financial incentives to work with the VA and will require the Pentagon and VA suicide prevention programs to undergo third-party reviews. It also further assists military veterans in their transition from active duty to civilian life.

The bill is named for Marine Corps veteran and sniper who took his own life in 2011 after having served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was just one of the estimated 8,000 veterans who die by suicide each year at the shocking rate of 22 deaths by suicide per day. The rates of veteran suicide far surpass those of the general population. According to the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) Suicide Prevention Report from 2014, veterans are facing increasing rates of suicide every year, particularly male vets under 30.

At the signing ceremony, President Obama will be joined by Hunt’s parents, veteran advocate and close friend of Hunt, Jake Wood, First Lady Michelle Obama, and VA Secretary Robert McDonald as well as members of military and Congress, veterans and veteran advocates.

Super Bowl Square Winners!

butler_int_imtq9tfi_dh8lzr9dI want to thank everyone who participated in this years Samaritans Super Bowl Squares game and congratulate the Winners from last weeks game! In total, $1,250 was raised to Samaritans! Thank you again for your help!!!

In the SACHEM SQUARES:

1st Quarter/$200 – Scott Peterson
2nd Quarter/$200 – Ronny Maggio
3rd Quarter/$200 – Ronny Maggio
4th Quarter/$400 – Mike Leavitt

In the Friends ALL OVER SQUARES:

1st Quarter/$50 – Marissa Kanemura
2nd Quarter/$50 – Brian Morrissey
3rd Quarter/$50 – Brian Morrissey
4th Quarter/$100 – Marissa Kanemura

What Robin Williams’ Untimely Death Can Teach Us About Human Struggle

Mental illness does not always present in the form of a scraggly, strung out bum on the street in a tattered, plaid shirt, or a twitchy young woman hiding chicken carcasses beneath her bed in an asylum. Sometimes it comes in the form of a handsome investment banker on Wall Street, who keeps his secrets buttoned up to the neck and secured tightly with an Hermès tie. Or perhaps it’s an upbeat kindergarten teacher finger painting rainbows with her students. Maybe it’s a bubbly blonde writing a satirical dating column for a leading magazine title. And in this case, it’s Robin Williams, the late, world famous actor and father of three. Mental illness is biological — it does not discriminate, and nobody is absolutely immune.

The bottom line? We just never know when someone is struggling.

Before I was diagnosed with an eating disorder and spent time in treatment with people facing all sorts of affliction, I, too, was one of those people who thought mental illness only happened to those people. You know, those “crazy” people, over there. But certainly not to a talented actor, and definitely not to dear old me.

Mental illness is just that — mental. It rarely manifests in the physical. You grow into it; it grows into you, until the two become one amorphous being. It’s invisible and incredibly maddening — not only for the sufferer, but for those trying desperately to understand. I hid my anorexia, a mental illness that often does bear physical signs, for almost 10 years before my cover was blown. We hide because we are afraid — afraid it’s our fault, afraid of fighting it, and afraid the world will not understand when we muster enough strength to face it head on.

There was a time where I might have believed that suicide was a cowardly act. I did not understand it then. For certain, it is a drastic and permanent end to a temporary, or at least treatable, problem. It is preventable, but it is not cowardly. I am grateful to have never, personally, experienced deep depression or suicidal ideation; I have, however, stayed up through the night with a very brave friend on the other end of the telephone pleading with her that she was loved, there was help, and the world needed her in it. Other friends of mine have survived suicide attempts. After hearing their stories, and fighting an illness myself, I get it now.

But not everyone has someone to help combat the all-powerful mind and its invasive, noxious thoughts when it simply wants to self-destruct and quit. In 2014, we have continued to make strides in science, technology, and health care. But sadly, the stigma against mental illness still prevails far and wide. Most people I know who are fortunate enough to seek treatment for their illnesses do so secretly. I know — I was one of them.

I never knew Robin Williams, but it saddens me to ponder him in his final moments, alone in his own sickness and despair. His apparent taking of his own life does not convey weakness; it points to the strength he had to have fought this disease alone for so long, to a point where death seemed a better option. Robin Williams did not kill himself; his illness did.

While Robin Williams played a role in many of our lives, to him, most of us were just strangers — strangers for whom his death is deeply, deeply felt. If anything, the aftermath of his passing is proof that, even if mental illness is widely misunderstood, people do care. We just need to care more before something tragic like this happens.

With every loss, there is a lesson. Perhaps this one is to be kind. Reach out. Tell the people you love that you love them. And if we cannot as a society understand mental illness, we must at least learn to accept it as a real, deadly disease, and practice compassion toward those who so bravely go to war against their own minds.

And to those who are struggling, you are not alone. Everybody needs a little help now and then.