PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Winter 2020 - 14

Offering Hope:
Changing the Trend in Suicide
A Mother's Passion for Life After Loss
By Karen Mojecki
Monday, April 4, 2011 turned my life upside down. My oldest
son died by suicide during his second deployment to Iraq. I was
shocked and overwhelmed with grief. Questions swirled in my
mind. Why did he die? What happened? Could something have
been done to prevent his death? I felt broken. I, the person who
had always helped other people through their problems, did not
have the answers to my situation.
My military casualty assistance officer
introduced me to an excellent counselor who
provided the months of extensive support I
needed to rebuild my life and my resiliency.
Through hope and determination, the loss of my
son has become an avenue to encourage and
celebrate life. I have completed
suicide first-aid training and openly share my
story with military and civilian audiences.
During one pre-deployment military unit
briefing, I related my experience and gave the
names of specific professionals who could help
anyone who was struggling with thoughts of
suicide. That evening, I received a text from
the unit training officer. He wrote, "If you ever
wonder if what you're doing is making a difference, I can tell you
with 100% certainty you are making a difference. You connected
so much with one of the soldiers that he broke down and asked
for help." The soldier told the officer, "She reminded me of my
mom." A few days later, I was notified that a second person also
reached out for help.

14 | Keystone Veterinarian

This "mom," who lost her son to suicide, is encouraging you
to also be a source of hope and support to those who are
struggling with thoughts of ending their life. I believe that
we can make a positive difference in the lives of our families,
friends, and our peers. When the Journal of the American
Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) released their January 1,
2019 special report on the rise in suicides among veterinarians
in the United States, it increased the discussion
of suicide among community members. Several
ensuing conversations repeated the statistical
information in the study while other exchanges
shared common myths, misinformation, and
personal stigma about suicide.
The silence about suicide has been broken
and the urgent need for a response has been
acknowledged. Now we must examine the hard
question: What steps can we individually take to
change this trend?

Separate facts from myths
The first step is to separate the facts about
suicide from the myths and misconceptions.
There are several reliable resources for
information on this topic. One resource is the National Alliance
on Mental Illness (NAMI). One post on their website, "5
Common Myths About Suicide Debunked" by Kristen Fuller,
M.D., is a short, accurate response to misinformation about
suicide. One of the myths that Dr. Fuller addresses is that talking
about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide. Her response
encourages us to talk about suicide because it "...reduces the



PVMA Keystone Veterinarian Winter 2020

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