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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – #Suicides Of Two #MentalHealthAdvocates In A Week Serve As A Grim Reminder

This week, the deaths of pastor #JarridWilson and #GregoryEells, head of #mentalhealth services at UPenn, highlighted an alarming reality for those in #mentalhealth.

Image: Gregory Eells, head of counseling and psychological services at University of Pennsylvania, and Jarrid Wilson, a megachurch pastor who promoted mental health, died by suicide this week.

Gregory Eells, head of counseling and psychological services at University of Pennsylvania, and Jarrid Wilson, a megachurch pastor who promoted mental health, died by suicide this week.

Psychotherapist #StaceyFreedenthal had helped many people overcome suicidal thoughts before she attempted to take her own life.

Freedenthal, in her 20s at the time and pursuing her master’s degree in social work, had been a volunteer at a suicide prevention hotline. When callers phoned her in crisis, she used her training and education to help.

Stacey Freedenthal
Stacey Freedenthal.Salvador Armendariz

But at the same time, the #depression she had struggled with herself on-and-off for more than a decade was worsening. The advice she gave to others contemplating ending their lives didn’t seem applicable to her. One night in January 1996, six months after she finished her volunteer position at the hotline, she tried to kill herself.

“Nobody is immune from suicide,” including #mentalhealthprofessionals, said Freedenthal, who is now an associate professor at the University of Denver graduate school of social work and the creator of SpeakingofSuicide.com, a suicide prevention website.

“The message can be good and true and inspirational, but that doesn’t mean the messenger is immune to the same challenges as everybody else.”

#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – 

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle


This week, two suicides highlighted that grim reality: The suicides of Gregory Eells, the head of counseling and psychological services at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jarrid Wilson, a California megachurch pastor who was an outspoken #mentalhealthadvocate.

The two worked in different circles and did not appear to have any connection to each other, but their deaths left many asking the same question: How could individuals who did so much for the #mentalhealth community not have gotten the help they needed themselves?

“The thing about #depression and #anxiety, and other #mentalillnesses or psychiatric conditions, is it typically involves our brains lying to ourselves,” said Julie Cerel, a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work and a past president of the American Association of Suicidology.

“When #depression is telling you you’re not worthy, even if we’re trained to combat those false beliefs in others, it’s really hard to be able to stop and do that for yourself — especially if you’ve been doing that for other people all day.”

“When #depression is telling you you’re not worthy, even if we’re trained to combat those false beliefs in others, it’s really hard to be able to stop and do that for yourself — especially if you’ve been doing that for other people all day.”

In the United States, suicide is on the rise. Experts say multiple factors lead to someone taking their own life and say #suicide can happen to anyone — even the famous and successful, like the celebrities #KateSpade and #AnthonyBourdain.

But many say a #stigma still exists against seeking help for #suicidalthoughts in a place where one would least expect it: in the #mentalhealthprofessional community itself.

“There may be for some people the sense of, ‘I’m a counselor, I know what to do, I help other people all day long, I know how to help myself,'” said Lynn Linde, chief knowledge and learning officer for the American Counseling Association, a not-for-profit dedicated to the counseling profession. “Counselors are so busy giving to others that they don’t always take care of themselves. They may minimize their own issues.”

There can be fear of professional repercussions too, Freedenthal said. Mental health professionals may be seeing a therapist who knows people in the same professional circles as they do, and “even though there’s rules of confidentiality, there’s still fear of that being violated.”

“They also may feel that they’re expected to be stronger,” Freedenthal said.

While Eells and Wilson were not working as #mentalhealthcounselors, it was not clear whether they had sought professional help in the weeks before their deaths or what led to their suicides.

Eells had been at the University of Pennsylvania for six months and had found the job more difficult than he expected, his mother told The Philadelphia Inquirer after his death. The job kept him hundreds of miles away from his wife and family, who were still living in Ithaca, New York, where he had previously worked at Cornell University.

Wilson, a pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship Church who had founded a Christian organization to help those with #mentalhealth and substance abuse, had been open about a longstanding battle with #depression. Shortly before his death, Wilson tweeted: “Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure #suicidalthoughts. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure #depression. … But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort.”

Jared Pingleton, director of #mentalhealthcare and ministry for the American Association of Christian Counselors, said many pastors carry the burdens of those in their churches and ignore their own need for self-care.

“I think many times, pastors feel guilty to take care of their own needs,” he said. “It’s an occupational hazard. By nature, that profession is very, very lonely, very isolated.”

He encouraged pastors to call a toll-free pastoral helpline he created five years ago for confidential Christian counseling.

All the experts said regardless of what position a #mentalhealthadvocate or professional is in, taking care of his or her own mental health is critical to helping others.

Freedenthal added that Eels’ and Wilson’s deaths shouldn’t detract from #suicideprevention.

“It just shows to me how much more we need to fight to learn how to better help people and how to make resources available. That’s what’s hard here. Gregory Eels and Jarrid Wilson, they knew about resources,” she said. “When something like this happens, it humbles me that we’re up against something really big, and we need to work harder.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

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