Zero Suicide: A grieving mother's goal for Marquette

 Courtesy: Carolyn St. Cyr
Courtesy: Carolyn St. Cyr (WLUC)
Published: Dec. 12, 2018 at 8:46 AM EST
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A mother who lost her son to suicide is pushing for transformation in suicide care by medical professionals.

After her 21-year-old son Jimmy died in February, Carolyn St. Cyr started a mission to bring a Zero Suicide initiative to the Marquette area.

"Even in our family, we have a history of OCD or depression," said St. Cyr. "Naturally this runs in our family and he had some of this. But he did suffer concussions his junior year of high school in football."

St. Cyr says Jimmy was up and down after that, finding hope through church. That's where he met Msgr. Michael Steber of St. Peter Cathedral.

"What a wonderful young person, alive in his faith, he was," said Steber. "And he would come and talk sometimes when there were struggles. Not giving perhaps, as Carolyn says, as much clarity to how deep some of the struggles were."

The hardest battle came after another head injury last December.

"He had been to the doctor 10-12 days before he passed away and that he had been hit in the head again and he was feeling off," said St. Cyr. "And this doctor knew that he had depression and had past suicidal thoughts. And he was not screened for depression. His chart was not marked."

St. Cyr says all of Jimmy's doctors did their best with the system and tools that were in place, but a more comprehensive approach to suicide prevention is needed.

St. Cyr says three months after her son's death, she found hope through an internet search

"I was drinking coffee and I was thinking to myself, 'How could this have happened, how did we miss this?' and I actually just Googled 'Zero Suicide,'" she said.

St. Cyr discovered Dr. Brian Ahmedani at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, where a Zero Suicide initiative reduced suicides by 80 percent in 10 years.

"Something is working and it's hopeful," she said.

Research by Dr. Ahmedani shows people who are considering suicide usually do seek help. His study found 64 percent of people who attempt suicide visit a doctor in the month before their attempt, while 38 percent visit a doctor in the week before.

"Dr. Ahmedani said we actually as a group are going to target depressed patients and get the same training and help try to reduce suicides," said St. Cyr. "And they've been successful at doing it."

St. Cyr started fundraising to bring Dr. Ahmedani to UP Health System-Marquette. With support from the community, he's set to visit in May.

St. Cyr's efforts also connected her with Dawn White, another mother who lost her 23-year-old son Miles to suicide in May.

"Everybody needs to know about it, and that's the issue with most things in life," said White. "The more tools and knowledge and resources we have the better equipped we are to deal with situations and the better decisions and help we can be to others."

On Thursday's TV6 Morning News, you can hear more of White's story and learn about the goals and plans for Dr. Ahmedani's visit to Marquette.

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.