September proved to be yet another exciting, and busy, Suicide Prevention Month with a lot of energy and enthusiasm from partners, advocates, and community members! We were thrilled to see so many come together to participate in our first ever “Chalk It Up For More Tomorrows” event that brought together dozens of local artists and advocates to share their creativity and positive, hopeful messages throughout the Omaha Metro Area. We were so excited to see how many people participated and how many creative minds we have supporting our work. More than 5,000 chalk orders were placed, and dozens of organizations, schools, families, businesses, health systems, and advocates participated! There was news coverage and photo contests, but most of all, there were sparks of hope for those who needed it most.
The Kim Foundation team was also out and about in the community doing more than 20 trainings and presentations in the month of September! From schools, to managed care companies, prevention specialists, the transportation industry, and the general community . . . the request for suicide prevention training and education came in at full force! We are so grateful and humbled by the number of people and groups who wanted to provide invaluable information to their members; highlighting that each and every one of us can play a role in suicide prevention.
We also supported a number of our partners during their suicide prevention month events attending virtual luncheon keynotes, booths at their gatherings, joined the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition in the Governor’s proclamation signing, participated in a press conference highlighting suicide prevention month with Governor Rickett’s and Director of the Division of Behavioral Health, Sheri Dawson, and worked with our dedicated volunteers through the Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition’s to host our first ever booths at the Omaha Farmer’s Market! What a month!
As I said, we are humbled by the momentum and attention we saw dedicated to suicide prevention this September. You all should be very proud of yourselves! We just ask that you continue the energy as we move through the fall, into the holidays and into 2022. Suicide does not isolate itself to the month of September, and the more light we can shed on suicide prevention and mental health promotion the healthier we will be as a community.
Take care of each other; send a positive message of hope to someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile; reach out for help if you’re struggling; serve as a support to someone in need; be kind; remember, you’re never alone. There is always help and hope available. Each of us can have a positive influence on someone. Each of us can help save a life from suicide. Each of us can play a part, and together we can make a significant and lasting change in our community!
If you or someone you know is suffering, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255.
Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation
Julia Hebenstreit is the Executive Director of The Kim Foundation. She received her J.D. from Creighton University in 2005, and her BS in Journalism from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2002. She has been with The Kim Foundation since 2011, and prior to that worked for local non-profits doing development, strategic planning, communications and advancement. She has a passion for helping people and improving lives, and serves on the Executive Committee for Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, as the 2015 Hill Day State Captain for the state of Nebraska, and as an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, BHECN Advisory Committee, RESPECT Advisory Board, Connections Advisory Board and the Project Propel Planning Group.