Podcast: Voices4Change with Rebecca & Joe Lombardo
“TreasureLives” Brings Awareness to the Tragedy of Suicide
Encinitas Seaside Courier February/ March 2018: http://bit.ly/2Fq0jxF (Page 2)
Carlsbad Seaside Courier February/ March 2018: http://bit.ly/2D9bPLI (Page 2)
MELODY NOLAN, Founding Director of the organization, “TreasureLives,” is blending Nolan’s academic training and own personal experiences in a way to reach out and help people prevent suicide, part of her mission to further identify foundational causes.
Oshkosh-based Melody Nolan is bringing academic training as a counselor to the battle facing people who have lost friends and loved ones to suicide.
Her organization, TreasureLives, not a counseling center or a crisis intervention service, is going back to the foundational aspects that create “suicide-ideation” in the first place, the core and crux of what causes suicidal concepts and feelings and how these things grow and increase risk.
As someone who lost a brother to suicide, and who herself struggles with mental and physical health challenges, which can often be concurrent, Nolan is a survivor whose philosophy is a campaign of reaching out through social and physical networking and strategic public messaging, to share what she knows about suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
Talking to the Omro Herald on February 16, Nolan discussed her own journey, one that has led her to Wisconsin: a journey of pain from the loss of her foster-sibling Jonathan Lazarus to suicide, the recent death of her foster mother, and other factors that have forged in Nolan a more “proactive stance” to keep, as her organizational slogan goes, “Learning from Lives Lost” and “Celebrating Lives Saved from Suicide!”
With social networks, an interactive blog and a YouTube channel online engagements are already extant, Nolan is fostering outreach into communities in order to garner stories.
Such narratives, Nolan remarks, should be complemented by something else of great importance if TreasureLives is to flourish as an anti-suicide tool, resource, and continual asset.
That is volunteers borne out of the kind of commitment and sacrifice that can make, potentially, a difference in saving countless lives, in part by reaching those people who for many reasons may feel abandoned, isolated, irrelevant, or socially isolated.
Talking from the experience as a person with physical ailments, who has had relationships fray and deteriorate, Nolan says people like her often struggle to retain social contacts when things like illness may form barriers.
Nolan also touches on technologies as dual-edged, on one hand providing necessary tools for people to remain connected even when housebound by conditions, on the other, spurring what Nolan calls “fundamental breakdowns in personal communication.”
In Omro and similar communities, many people are so disenfranchised from the kind of social opportunities and engagements that others take for granted, that they may become suicidal, without remedies of social discourse and the care, concern, and attention friends and family members can often bring.
Regarding people who are isolated for any reason, Nolan says, “We need our friends to actively engage with us, to acknowledge our existence; and it’s doubly effective when someone else initiates that phone call or email.”
Bridging the TreasureLives ethic to communities
Asked about what strategic messages she wishes to convey to the public to increase engagements, from volunteerism to sharing of powerful narratives, Nolan honed in on three things that are part of the TreasureLives framework.
First is a hash-tag—i.e. the “#” symbol—campaign called “#AwesomeHero.
Nolan says, “The ‘#MeToo’ movement is changing the world. I want to see what would happen if there was as much participation in #AwesomeHero as in #MeToo. That’s why I want it to go viral.” #AwesomeHero was inspired by Kyle Jacobson, a paramedic in the state of Washington.
Nolan explains, “People praised him for being a hero for his work. He replied that what made him a hero was the way he used his words. For example, one day he was called to the scene of a suicide attempt by a teenaged boy. In the ambulance, he told the boy that every time he heard a voice telling him he wasn’t good enough, wasn’t worthy enough, or didn’t deserve to live that he wanted him to counter that thought by saying to himself, ‘I’m awesome.’ Later, Kyle heard a nurse check on the boy. ‘How are you feeling?’ she asked. The boy replied, ‘I’m awesome!'”
Hash-tagging through means of diverse avenues of social networking is a way of strategically messaging.
It is a way of “getting back to acknowledging the fundamental goodness in all of us,” says Nolan, by means of sharing triumphant stories of positive reinforcement, through sharing what Nolan adds “might be considered small gestures of kindness,” things too often taken for granted but which reflect the power of human potential to actuate acts of heroism.
“This is a gratitude campaign,” Nolan adds. “It’s meant to increase self-esteem among communities and individuals,” and also an avenue going back to addressing fundamentals of suicidal causation, the agents that contribute to the formulation of suicidal ideals.
Hash-tagging focuses on situations where people might have their stories shared and recognized.
“We don’t get enough credit for much of the stuff we do, and in an often competitive world, more positive reinforcement is needed,” Nolan says about how #AwesomeHero can work as a dynamic reach out.
Another thing Melody Nolan wants is specific volunteer support to lend help to an online engagement she wants to revive.
Called SSA—Survivors of Suicide Attempts—a moderated site could be invaluable to dealing with the often fragile at-risk group of those who have survived suicide attempts but still need support.
A coordinated volunteer contingent would be on his or her personal computer checking for notices of people wanting to share statements, and then help to moderate the posts as outlined by the SSA guidelines already in place to assure appropriateness.
The targeted suicide recovery demographic is crucial to engage because, Nolan explains, “People who have attempted suicide have higher incidents of re-attempts, and are more likely to go on to actualize suicides.”
Especially problematic for this at-risk group is when the individuals are ignored or not taken seriously because when previous attempts at suicide have been made, those around them can embrace a false sense of the survivor’s immortality.
Nolan also invites the community to contribute to the TreasureLives YouTube channel. People can create their own materials for uploading, adding to extant content such as memorials for those who have lost loved ones or friends to suicide. TreasureLives requires that all stories omit the details of how suicide attempts were made, which can distract from the influence and power of the whole narrative’s messaging.
However, Nolan is hoping for contributions focusing not so much on tragedy but on the stories of people who, close to attempting suicide, changed their minds: She wants to “identify specifically what prevented the suicide attempt.” She also wants to focus on the stories of those who have survived suicide attempts and the lifestyles relevant to those who have found the tools and resources to live with the symptoms of mental illness that can often seem unendurable. Nolan wants to know “what treatments are effective in giving people the ability to engage in and increase the quality of their lives.”
”We need to continue telling the stories of lives lost, yes, but also focus on the lives saved,” Nolan says about a focus-shift needed to, again, train on methods and strategies driving productive lives and maximizing suicide- prevention.
These are areas she claims may be lacking in support by some of the numerous suicide programs, groups, and organizations.
In many instances, these supports are not keeping pace with what Nolan mentions as increasing in numbers of suicide rates.
Calling attention to specific statistics, the Founder of TreasureLives says that approximately 2,054 people attempt suicide every day in the United States. An average of 83 of these attempts result in death—referencing www.suicide.org.
Prevention needs to be addressed on a “fundamental level,” which is partly why Nolan is constructing “an experiential mental wellness curriculum” that would, once formulated completely, range in application from grade school through college, and provide what she says would be “a structured format for students to learn to identify and express emotions, cultivate communication skills, understand and implement boundaries, and explore a variety of ‘what to do if’ scenarios.”
Nolan is seeking volunteers and funding for a mission whose programming resources would cover demographic units such as low-income families, people with disabilities, seniors, and veterans in securing mental health care.
For Nolan, “TreasureLives” can be interpreted two ways: as “treasure lives” in the active sense, and as “treasure lives”—troves of meaningful existences that continue to touch hearts and minds.
For more information including links to the social networks, how to donate, submit videos, or to volunteer, visit the TreasureLives website at bit.ly/TreasureLives, call Melody Nolan at (760) 298-3144, or email Nolan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melody Nolan is bringing awareness to suicide prevention and mental health issues
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