Out of the Darkness -- Preventing Suicide in Virginia
September 8, 2013 - 11:44am
About 70 years ago, my great uncle, a world war two soldier, died by suicide. I can’t help but think how he, a gay soldier, would have faired in today’s increasingly open and tolerant military and society. I keep his flag in my House of Delegates office to remind me of his service and his struggles.
Just over five years ago, my aunt also died by suicide. She was a vivacious, charismatic force. She was full of life. But she was also plagued with depression and alcohol abuse. I often let a litany of what if questions pass through my mind. What if we noticed the signs? What if her periods of non-communication were actually seen by us as a sign? What if we’d paid closer attention to her alcohol use?
But we can’t focus on what if. We have to focus on preventing the tragedy of suicide going forward. That is why I was proud to speak at the Out of the Darkness walk this past Sunday (http://www.afsp.org/local-chapters/find-your-local-chapter/afsp-national...). Over ninety percent of the people that die by suicide suffer from mental illness. Suicide is taking more soldier’s lives now, than the battlefield.
Last session I worked with my colleagues to add new funding for Mental Health First Aid training to Virginia’s budget. This life-saving training equips nurses, teachers, clergy, public safety and other members of our community with the tools to identify mental health issues early and to help people get treatment. With the new funding, Virginia will hold at least five MHFA instructor-training courses. These will train at least 130 instructors. This "train the trainer" model will allow the funds to be put the greatest possible use. Each year we need to hold more classes so that more communities will be able to provide Mental Health First Aid training to their citizens.
This session I’m working with a number of colleagues to decriminalize suicide. Right now, suicide is considered a crime in Virginia. We need to erase this relic of our past and treat suicide as the mental health issue that it is. It is essential that we provide more support for mental health services in Virginia. All of us have friends or family that suffer from mental illness. Getting these issues out of the darkness and into the light where services and well-trained individuals can help is key to eliminating suicide.
Paid for and Authorized by Friends of Krupicka and Rob Krupicka.
To Contact Delegate Krupicka:
Elizabeth Jones, Legislative Aide | DelRKrupicka@House.Virginia.Gov
571-357-4762 | P.O. Box 25455 | Alexandria, VA 22313