MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Marquette County health professionals are set to meet this spring with a doctor behind a successful Zero Suicide initiative.
Courtesy: Dawn White
The push to bring the specialist to Marquette connected two mothers who both lost their sons to suicide this year.
Dawn White's son 23-year-old son Miles died by suicide in May.
"I didn't know the resources," said White. "I didn't know how to help him, and I didn't know that he was in the position that he was."
White says Miles suffered repetitive concussions in high school. His doctor was treating him for depression, and he was on medication.
"I really didn't know that my son was suicidal, although my son would get very depressed. I did know that he was really struggling in April, and I was struggling there with him, but we thought he was over it. My son struggled when things happened."
Through friends, White met Carolyn St. Cyr, whose 21-year-old son Jimmy died in February, less than two weeks after seeing his doctor.
"None of us knew, right, and now it's like how do we get everybody on the same page?" said St. Cyr. "Henry Ford Health System is doing it, and by the way, the Air Force adopted their program and they went from one suicide a day to zero in 180 days."
It's a Zero Suicide initiative St. Cyr is pushing to transform suicide care by medical professionals. Dr. Brian Ahmedani from Detroit is set to visit UP Health System-Marquette in May.
"It's a good opportunity," said Dr. Wael Khouli, the chief medical officer at UPHS.
Khouli says hearing from Ahmedani is one part of a community approach to mental health.
"We're trying to maximize as much as we can the resources that we have to fill the need that's there," he said.
To get Dr. Ahmedani to Marquette, St. Cyr had to raise $4,000. With support from the community, that goal was quickly surpassed.
"I heard about it on Facebook and just thought, 'I have to do this,'" said Lisa Jahnke.
Jahnke, a board member of the Community Foundation of Marquette County, helped get Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to donate $1350.
"We've got to do something more than talk, and I think this is something that can do that," said Jahnke.
Other contributions included $1,000 from UPHS and $500 from Jimmy's 2014 graduating class at Marquette Senior High School.
St. Cyr hopes Dr. Ahmedani's visit in May will lead to more.
"The long term goal is to get a federal grant or some type of money where we could implement a Zero Suicide initiative in Marquette, and they're available through the Department of Health and Human Services," she said. "You can apply for a $1-3 million grant."
White says suicide prevention is everyone's responsibility, and as she shares the story of her son, she encourages kindness and gentleness to everyone.
"You have no idea what people are actually going through, the issues they are dealing with," said White.
In the meantime, we can all help prevent suicide. If you or someone you know needs free and confidential support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Here's a list of the organizations that are contributing money to bring Dr. Ahmedani to Marquette in May:
1. UP Health System $1000
2. UPHS Medical Staff $1000
3. BC/BS Michigan $1350
4. Adamo Group $1000
5. MSHS Class of 2014 $500
6. Marquette Alger Medical Society $300
7. Lakenen Crane & Rigging $300
8. Marquette County Suicide Prevention Alliance $200
9. Superior Health Foundation $250
10. Bell Auxiliary $250
11. First National Bank $250
12. Robert Jacquart (Stormy Kromer) $200
13. Jan Cusimano $100
14. Longyear $500