California Model, Community Involvement

COR, KVSP focus on suicide awareness

Suicide awareness table for staff manned by volunteers.
Staff at shift change at the front entrance visit a second suicide awareness information table at KVSP.

Two CDCR institutions, CSP-Corcoran and Kern Valley State Prison, have been raising awareness regarding suicide, reminding people that help is available.

COR sheds light on suicide topic

California State Prison, Corcoran (COR) staff recently attended the “Out of the Darkness – Community Walk” in Fresno. COR Senior Psychologist Supervisor Leah Leduc and Warden (A) T.L. Campbell represented the institution at the event.

COR’s Employee Activity Committee sponsored the first 10 employees. Also, all staff received invitations to participate in or attend to support their coworkers.

A total of 14 sponsored staff members along with other non-sponsored staff participated in the event. Family and friends joined in at the event.  The event exemplified the impact of suicide, regardless of classification, rank, or age. 

Participants received custom t-shirts that displayed a large semicolon representing the active decision to move on after a suicidal crisis. The back of the shirt displayed a large Suicide Prevention flag with purple and teal colors. The moto for project semicolon is “Your story isn’t over.” Participants shared time together and received beverages and snacks.

Impact of suicide

“I am often approached by fellow staff who have lost a loved one to suicide, or who have friends or family members struggling with mental health issues. Out of the Darkness events provide a much-needed opportunity for people to speak about their own experiences of loss and shed light on the often-stigmatized topic of suicide,” said Leduc.

Multiple other organizations, families, couples, and individuals attended the event and were able to gather literature from the multiple vendors present. An opening ceremony initiated the walk. COR set a $30,000 goal, finishing just shy of that number.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosted the walk and offer resources and host other events. Please visit their website for more information.

Story submitted by Lt. Robert Clifton, AA/PIO
California State Prison, Corcoran

KVSP brings awareness to suicide prevention

Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) recently rang the bell of awareness during National Suicide Prevention Week.

The annual suicide awareness campaign educates and informs the public about suicide prevention while also warning about rising suicide rates. It also aims to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and encourage the pursuit of mental health assistance when someone is hurting.

Over the past several years, KVSP has been hit hard with staff suicides. From losing colleagues to family members, it has been difficult. Losing someone you care about is hard enough, but to lose them at their own hand is devastating.

For those that have been through the loss of a loved to suicide, the pain is described as unbearable. That’s probably because the act is so preventable. This is what Suicide Awareness is all about.

A plan to help staff

A group of KVSP staff came up with a plan raise suicide awareness while also engaging staff.

They created a leafless tree in the front entrance of the administration building. Next to it, they set up a table offering handouts and bracelets. Meanwhile, volunteers offered blank leaves for staff to write inspirational messages and hang them on the tree.

Meghan Hamill said the feedback was great.

“We recognized the struggle staff go through at work and in their personal lives. We wanted to provide employee and community based resources in an anonymous way,” Hamill said. “The tree with messages of hope was a way to remind everyone we are in this together. Someone is there if they need them.”

Another staff member summed it up this way.

“I lost my brother to suicide several years ago. It hurts to know he was in so much pain and I often wondered what I could have done,” the staff member said. “Now, I look at what I can do, such as bring awareness. These simple messages will help someone struggling.”

By Lt. John Melvin, AA/PIO
Kern Valley State Prison

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