Speaker’s Forum

Welcome to the Speaker's Forum. We welcome mental health and wellness professionals and writers to be our featured Blogger of the Week/Month. Maximum word count for submissions is 750 words. Contact us here if you are interested in being featured.

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Spring Forward – April 2018 Mental Mending Update

Happy Easter, Happy Passover & Happy Spring – a time for renewal. 
 
Mental health is an important and timely topic in the aftermath of the Parkland, FL, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 15 students and 2 teachers were slain on Valentine’s Day. Mobilized students across the country, under the banner of #Enough and #NeverAgain, are demanding legislative action on reducing gun violence and access to affordable mental health resources. We endorse their peaceful, inclusive mission to make all public and community spaces safe for all children, teens, adults and seniors.
 
MENTAL MENDING IN THE NEWS 
Online Guide – Kids & Depression: This new guide from USA.gov helps parents, grandparents and teachers recognize symptoms and risk factors in children, teens and young adults, and highlights treatment options. Click here to view the guide.
 
Collier County, FL, is taking the lead and becoming a model for screening kids’ mental health during doctor visits.  Click here to read the Naples Daily News article by Liz Freeman. 
 
Healthy Lee, a civic group dedicated to improving public health in Lee County, Florida, hosted a first-of-its-kind community conversation to address mental health and substance abuse needs. Click here to Jennifer Reed’s article about their first Community Conversation. Spoken Word Artist Lenz Daluzma, presented the opening poem at this event. You can view his poem, Mask, on our project website – https://www.writeonmymind.com/the-poetry-gallery/.
 
A story of hope and community: ’I Never Thought That Would Happen in Our Family’ – Behind the movement for early discovery and treatment of kids with emotional problems. Click here to read about community mental health services, including NAMI of Collier County, that help families get re-grounded. Thanks to Gulfshore Life Magazine and journalist Jennifer Reed for their spotlight on mental health.
 
Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter’s Guest Commentary on navigating through the holidays after sudden loss was published in Florida Weekly and the Naples Daily News/USA Today. We thank them for helping us shine a light on mental health and NAMI’s helpful programs and services.
 
Mental Health Advocate Norman J. Ornstein shares his story about he challenges he and his wife faced when invoking Florida’s Baker Act to try to help their adult son who suffered from serious mental illness. “…until we devote the needed resources to making the mental health system work, we will continue to have unnecessary tragedies.” Click here to read his New York Times commentary – No Quick Fix for Mental Illness.” 
 
Singer, songwriter and activist Judy Collins shared from the heart @ the NAMI-CC Hope Shines Benefit Luncheon on December 8, 2017. Click here to read Dayna Harpster’s Spotlight Naples News Magazine article about Judy’s presentation.  
 
THE ART OF HEALING – www.WriteOnMyMind.com: A positive way to de-stress is through art. We welcome artwork, photos, poetry, prose and multi-media works created by children, teens and adults for display on our website galleries as well as mental mending blog articles for our website Speaker’s Forum. We are delighted to introduce two new art projects for our art gallery: 
 
1. A Warm Salute to Everglades City Public Schools 4th & 5th Grade American History Course Artists: Art teacher James Tribble inspired his 4th and 5th graders to express their views on their recent American history course. Click here to view their uplifting patriotic artwork. Everglades City was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Irma in September 2017 and the community’s resilience is inspiring. Thanks to Everglades City Public Schools Counselor Carolyn Rambosk for coordinating this project.
2. We Welcome the Marco Island Academy High School Art Students: Art teacher Rob Eder invited Deena Baxter to visit his class. Deena spoke with the students about surviving sudden loss and ways we can use art to help us heal. She brought a guest – spoken word artist Lenz Dalusma – who performed two poems: MASK and GLASSES. His messages were inspiring. Afterwards, the students worked on an art project that expressed their emotions in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and other recent trauma in their lives. We are honored to showcase their powerful and emotive artwork. Thank You Marco Island Academy Art Students, Mr. Eder and MIA Principal Melissa Scott.  Click here to view more of their artwork.
 
LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE: “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” ~ Terry Prachett 
 
ADVOCACY: Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter is making presentations at venues throughout SW Florida – and nationally. See below for upcoming presentations. If you have a professional organization, company, civic, social or church group who would be interested in a mental mending presentation, contact her at DeenaBaxter2@gmail.com for more information. View a summary of past presentations and photos at: https://www.writeonmymind.com/whats-news/.
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Surviving Suicide - Searching For Normal with Heartache and Humor
 
About The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project: After losing her youngest adult son to suicide, Deena Baxter launched The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL, in September 2014. The project’s mission is to promote life-affirming mental wellness. It includes a book, a creative arts website, www.WriteOnMyMind.com, and outreach presentations. The book is titled, SURVIVING SUICIDE – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache and Humor: All profit from book sales flows to NAMI of Collier County, FL. Click here for eBook information. Hard copies have sold out on Amazon but we have a few for sale at NAMI – contact deenabaxter2@gamil.comThe book has been endorsed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. (TAPS).   
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Upcoming Presentations and Events:
 
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Time: 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Naples United Church of Christ
WISE Event hosted by NUCC Stephen Ministry Program
5200 Crayton Rd, Naples, FL 34103
McSpadden Hall
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Tim McArthur – “A Primer on Mental Health”
Deena Baxter & NAMI of Collier County, FL, were invited to attend.
This is a closed event
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL
Crisis Intervention Training (C.I.T.) Family Panel Presentation
Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter will be a panelist
6216 Trail Boulevard, Building C
Naples, FL 34108-2835
This is a closed event.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Friday, June 22, 2018
Time: 3:30 – 4:30pm (35 min. presentation; 25 min. Q&A)
Collier County Public Library – Estates Library
1266 Golden Gate Boulevard West, Naples, FL 34120
Presentation by Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Title: Mental Mending after Sudden Loss – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache, Humor & Art
Open to the Public. Contact the Library to register: 239-455-8088
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Wednesday, October 10, 2018 
Time: 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Naples United Church of Christ
WISE Event hosted by NUCC Stephen Ministry Program
5200 Crayton Rd, Naples, FL 34103
Keynote Speaker: Rev. Dr. Sara Griffith Lund, author, Breaking the Silence about Mental Illness In Our Congregations, in Our Families, and In Ourselves 
Deena Baxter & NAMI of Collier County, FL, were invited to attend.
This is a closed event
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Best regards,
Deena Baxter and Team NAMI-Collier
The Surviving Suicide and Sudden Loss Project

Is it Possible to Live, Laugh, and Love Through the Holidays After Losing a Loved one to Suicide?

We are proud to feature guest blogger Jenny Landon, founder of The Lotus Project. As a survivor of suicide, Jenny has taken one of the most difficult experiences of her life – losing her father to suicide in 1999 – and turned it into a passion for helping others.  This is a beautiful and poignant essay about navigating through the holidays…and more. Click here to learn more about The Lotus Project and her book, “Growing Through Grief”.

The holidays are a time for gathering with loved ones and recognizing the blessings in our lives, but for those who’ve been impacted by suicide the holidays can be a reminder of all that’s been lost.

When I reflect on what Christmas first felt like for me after my dad died, I remember feeling overwhelmed by a multitude of emotions. I felt intense sadness because of the realization that I’d never have another Christmas with him. I felt angry and frustrated because I didn’t know how to interact with my mom and siblings. I felt guilty for having not realized how sick he had been, guilty for wanting to enjoy the day, and guilty for feeling as though my sadness was robbing the joy from others.

Losing my dad to suicide left me feeling as though I would never be whole again, and yet 18 years later I can tell you that it’s sometimes hard for me to remember what that pain felt like. As I prepared to write this, I found myself questioning when it was that my pain shifted from a gaping hole in my heart to a mending wound and I realized that much of my healing came after having children.

It wasn’t having children that healed me. It was my desire to be healthy for them that really pushed me to focus on being the best version of me. How could I be that if I was walking around with a gaping hole in my heart? I will admit that I often felt like I had to fake my enthusiasm and happiness in various situations. As I look back, I’ve realized that by faking it for my children I was actually relearning how to feel happiness. At some point it no longer felt forced or fake. It just felt natural to laugh again.

It’s important to understand that time doesn’t heal all wounds … it’s what we do with that time that determines our healing. My grief didn’t subside just because a few years had passed. My healing was the result of my desire to heal and my willingness to participate in various means of therapy, many of which often felt challenging and difficult because they were forcing me to fully process my loss and my grief.

First and foremost, I had to fully know and believe that no one chooses to be depressed and no one chooses to die by suicide. Suicide is the result of an illness. For some people that illness is long and drawn out. For others it’s sudden and unexpected. Once I understood that, I had to release myself and others from taking the blame for my dad’s death. Regardless of the situation, it’s important that we understand that healthy people do not die by suicide.

Another key element to my healing was making the choice to find something good from my dad’s death. After he died, I finished my degree in Psychology and then became a crisis counselor and public educator on suicide prevention and awareness. In January of 2017 I started a nonprofit focused on changing the way we speak and think about depression and suicide. My hope is that my dad’s death will contribute to the change that’s needed to help save others.

I wouldn’t be where I am today and doing the work I’m doing if it weren’t for the people in my life. Some have come and gone, but I’ve learned to always surround myself with people who will push me past my comfort zone in a healthy way, encourage me during times of self-doubt, and love me even when I feel unlovable.

I believe love is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and to others. I’ve learned that acts of love can heal our hearts faster and better than any amount of talk therapy. Volunteer at a shelter, compliment a stranger, help a person in need, share your story … If your words and actions are coming from a place of love, then there is a good chance you and the person you’re interacting with will both benefit.

Remember the person you lost for who they were to you. Honor their memory through sharing stories … good and bad, funny and sad. Don’t lose them again out of fear of talking about them.

My dad is with me every day. My tears aren’t from the pain I once felt, but from the love I feel when I talk about him. After my dad died I felt as though my heart might literally explode from the torment and sadness that was consuming me. Now I feel as though it might burst from all the love he pours into me.

My dad’s death and having children have given me the gift of realizing that I must make choices that make me proud, which provide me with a tremendous sense of joy and peace. It’s my hope that through sharing my own experiences with you that you will be encouraged and know that it is possible to fully live, laugh, and love through the holidays once again.


Mental Mending Summer Update – Thanks Kappa Psi & Collier Citizen, Welcome new artists at WriteOnMyMind.com

As we wrap up a very busy summer we have lots of good news to share.
 
Kappa Psi Presentation: Thanks to Grand Regent Robert Mancini and the Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity Biennial Convention Committee for inviting Deena Baxter to speak on the topic of suicide loss and prevention on August 4, 2017. Her 90-minute plenary presentation to 635 Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, Inc., members and guests included an engaging Q&A. At the conclusion of the session, Dr. Mancini presented Deena with a generous donation to NAMI of Collier County, FL, in honor of The Surviving Suicide and Sudden Loss Project. We are please to recognize Kappa Psi as a new Leadership Sponsor. Development Director Darla Pasteur accepted the check on behalf of NAMI of Collier County. Thanks are also in order for Editor Jay Schlichter and reporter Ashley Collins at the Collier Citizen for their extensive online, video and print coverage on Deena’s presentation, NAMI of Collier County, FL, and Kappa Psi. Click here to view the coverage. 
 
Thanks to our donors: We would also like to thank some new donors who are helping us “Give mental illness a life-affirming voice.”: Mrs. Norman Sebell (Leadership Sponsor) and members of the Naples United Church of Christ Stephen Ministry Program (Gift of Hope Donors). They, along with Kappa Psi, have been recognized on our home page (http://www.writeonmymind.com/).
 

Introducing new artwork at WriteOnMyMind.com: “Eye Candy” for the soul – in a range of flavors from bitter to sweet: That’s what you’ll find in new artwork from NAMI of Southwest Missouri Hope Center in Springfield, Missouri. Hope Center Director Addie Blankenship led a recovery-based Self-Expressions Workshop on June 9, encouraging participants to use art to express their journey in recovery from mental illness. Included below are some of the paintings and sculptures. Click here to view more artwork by Abigail, Addie, Anngie, Jillian, Josh, Ra’Mon, Tina and others. We are delighted to be part of their healing.

Introducing Naples, FL, Illustrator: Carl Dean Smeed is a native of Naples, FL, and a long-time member of the Sarah Ann Adult Drop-In Center community at NAMI of Collier County, FL. A self-trained artist, he started drawing at the age of four and developed his talent by observing other artists, practicing and developing his own style. His freehand illustrations, created with felt tip markers, are extremely detailed: most include a profusion of vibrant colors. Inspirations for his illustrations and body art designs (tattoos) come from the joys and sorrows of his life experiences and travels. Click here to view more of his illustrations.
We welcome mental mending blog articles for our website Speaker’s Forum as well as artwork, photos, poetry, prose and multi-media works created by children, teens and adults for display on our website galleries.  
Surviving Suicide - Searching For Normal with Heartache and Humor
About The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project: After losing her youngest adult son to suicide, Deena Baxter launched The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL, in September 2014. The project’s mission is to promote life-affirming mental wellness. It includes a book, a creative arts website, www.WriteOnMyMind.com, and outreach presentations. The book is titled, SURVIVING SUICIDE – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache and Humor: All profit from book sales flows to NAMI of Collier County, FL. Hard copy books are available at Amazon while supply lasts. An eBook is available on Amazon and the Apple store. The book has been endorsed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. (TAPS).   
 
Upcoming Presentations & Events: Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter is making presentations at venues throughout SW Florida – and nationally. See below for upcoming presentations. If you have a professional organization, company, civic, social or church group who would be interested in a mental mending presentation, contact her at DeenaBaxter2@gmail.com for more information. View a summary of past presentations and photos at: http://www.writeonmymind.com/whats-news/.
 
Here are some upcoming presentations. 
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL
Crisis Intervention Training (C.I.T.) Family Panel Presentation
Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter will be a panelist
6216 Trail Boulevard, Building C
Naples, FL 34108-2835
This is a closed event.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Time: 8:00pm – 9:00pm
Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA)
Mental Health Webinar
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
This is a closed event.
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Saturday, November 11, 2017 
Lunch speaker: Noon – 1:00pm
The Silent Epidemic: A Conference on Suicide
Hosted by The Kevin’s Song Foundation
The Inn at St. John’s, 44045 Five Mile Road, Plymouth MI 48170
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: Out To Lunch: Mending a broken heart and searching for “Normal” after suicide loss
Open to the public. Registration required. Click here for registration and conference information.
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Best regards,
Deena Baxter and Team NAMI-Collier
The Surviving Suicide and Sudden Loss Project

Honoring Memorial Day & Mental Health Awareness Month Heroes: Veterans, First Responders and Artists

The Memorial Day holiday is a time to honor our armed services veterans and first responders – those
who died, those who survived, and those currently on active duty defending our national security at
home and abroad.

As May comes to an end, so does Mental Health Awareness Month – an opportune time to honor mental health heroes. It’s a time to thank brain science researchers searching for mental health breakthroughs, diagnostic capabilities and patient-specific remedies; first responders who are trained in crisis intervention and know how to safely defuse a volatile mental health crisis; and the many grass-roots mental health advocates and non-profits striving locally and nationally to deliver effective mental health programs and services. Equally important are the courageous veterans, children, teens, adults and seniors who embrace life to the fullest while living with mental health challenges.

Since launching The Surviving Suicide and Sudden Loss Project in September 2014, in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL, I have met many such heroes. In sharing their personal stories, they demonstrate levels of commitment and resilience that inspire me. Our project includes a creative arts website, www.WriteOnMyMind.com – “A safe place for the mind to speak, giving mental illness a life-affirming voice.” We encourage people impacted by mental illness and their caregivers to express their emotions through art: drawings, paintings, photography, poetry, prose and music.

For too long, the stigma of mental illness and impairment has kept it cloaked in darkness and denial. This places an additional burden on those who live with it every day plus their caregivers, families and loved ones. Many of these adults, teens and children are seeking to live full, productive lives. They are successfully integrating their mental health challenges into their daily lives but don’t wish to be defined by them.

Anthony Azmitia is one of our NAMI artists and one of my heroes. He is in his late 30’s and is a talented artist. He’s articulate, highly observant, and has a wonderful, warm sense of humor that often surfaces in his art. The mediums he uses as “canvases” for many of his pieces are creative and unique: old LP records, bricks, wood blocks and cassette covers, to name a few. He is anchored by caring parents and sustained by his strong religious beliefs. When he lived in New York City, he participated in a structured program that matched him with a roommate and helped him find a job, allowing the two men to live in an apartment with support services available, when needed. Anthony loved the autonomy and he thrived. He dedicated himself to honing his artistic skills and was rewarded when some of his paintings debuted at Pure Vision Arts (http://www.purevisionarts.org/).

Unfortunately, the living arrangement didn’t last and Anthony was forced to move back home. When his parents retired to SW Florida he came with them. It’s been an adjustment for the family. Thankfully, he has found a welcoming home away from home at the NAMI-Collier Sarah Ann Adult Drop-In Center. That’s where I first met Anthony and viewed his artwork. I was very moved by his warm heart, his sensitive, caring nature, and his leadership capabilities. This spring, Caroline Ridgway, a third-generation SW Florida business leader and philanthropist, and a handful of sponsors and supporters hosted the Old Naples Arts and Entertainment Event, featuring artwork by artists similar to Anthony. It was juried by Kristine and Juliana Meek from Harmon-Meek Gallery. Anthony sold two pieces and received the Best in Show Blue Ribbon. His self-esteem soared and he told me, “This is my dream come true.” Anthony’s artwork is displayed at http://www.writeonmymind.com/the-art-gallery/.

The visual arts can be a powerful communicator, beyond words. It can send a message and teach us if we are open to it. Working together, coupled with adequate financial and human resources and effective life-skills programs and services, we can make our communities safer and welcoming for those living with mental health challenges. There is so much untapped potential – let’s give it a life-affirming voice and wings to fly.

Thanks to BetterAfter50.com and NaplesNews.com for publishing a shorter version of this article. Click here to view the BA50 article. Click here to view the Naples Daily News article.

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We welcome artwork, photos, poetry, prose and multi-media works created by children, teens and adults
for display on our website galleries.
About The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project: After losing her youngest adult son to suicide, Deena Baxter launched The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL, in September 2014. The project’s mission is to promote life-affirming mental wellness. It includes a book, a creative arts website, www.WriteOnMyMind.com, and outreach presentations. The book is titled, SURVIVING SUICIDE – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache and Humor: All profit from book sales flows to NAMI of Collier County, FL. Hard copy books are available at major booksellers while supply lasts. The eBook is available on Amazon and the Apple store. The book has been endorsed by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. (TAPS).

Upcoming Presentations & Events: Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter is making presentations at venues throughout SW Florida – and beyond. See below for upcoming presentations. If you have a professional organization, company, civic, social or church group who would be interested in a mental mending presentation, contact her at DeenaBaxter2@gmail.com for more information. View a summary of past presentations and photos at: http://www.writeonmymind.com/whats-news/.Recent May 2017 presentations:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Time: 1:00 – 2:00pm, Lunch Speaker
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Missouri
NAMI-Missouri Annual Conference
Holiday Inn Expo Center
2200 I-70 Drive S.W., Columbia, MO 65203 
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: SURVIVING SUICIDE – Mending the Family Tree with Heartache, Art and Humor
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Friday, May 19, 2017
Time: 12:30pm Luncheon Speaker
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Michigan
NAMI-Michigan Annual Conference
Detroit Marriott Livonia
17100 Laurel Park Drive North, Livonia, MI 48152
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: OUT TO LUNCH – Searching for “Normal” After Suicide
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Saturday, May 20, 2017
Conference Time: 10:00am – 3:00pm
Presentation Time: 10:15am – 11:15am
Survivors of Suicide (S.O.S.) Macomb County, MI, Annual Conference
Macomb Intermediate School District Building
44001 Garfield Rd., Clinton Township MI 48038
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: MENTAL MENDING – Searching for “Normal” After Suicide

Here are some upcoming presentations. 
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Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL
Crisis Intervention Training (C.I.T.) Consumer Panel Presentation
Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter will be a panelist

6216 Trail Boulevard, Building C
Naples, FL 34108-2835
This is a closed event.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Friday, August 4, 2017
Plenary Presentation: 10:30 – Noon
Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity Biennial Convention
Convention Theme: “Preserving our Future”
Naples Grande Beach Resort
475 Seagate Dr, Naples, FL 34103
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: UNDERSTANDING SUICIDE – A Lived Story of Sudden Loss & Search for “Normal”
For members only. Registration required.
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Saturday, November 11, 2017 
Presentation Time: Noon – 1:00pm
The Silent Epidemic: A Conference on Suicide
Hosted by The Kevin’s Song Foundation
The Inn at St. John’s, 44045 Five Mile Road, Plymouth MI 48170
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: TBA
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Best regards,
Deena Baxter and Team NAMI-Collier
The Surviving Suicide and Sudden Loss Project
A Partnership with NAMI of Collier County, FL

Spring 2017 Updates – Blue Ribbon Art Honor, New DLC Art Project, Outreach to Our First Responders, Songs that Mend Broken Hearts, Upcoming Events

As we leap into spring, we’ve got inspiring news to share.

Anthony received Best In Show Blue Ribbon Honors
Old Naples Art Event, Apr. 1, 2017

Oscar “Anthony” Azmitia was among several NAMI of Collier County, FL, Sarah Ann Center Artists whose artwork was displayed at the Old Naples Arts and Entertainment Event, March 31 – April 1, 2017, hosted at Trinity-By-The-Cove Episcopal Church, Naples FL. Judging was by a committee led by Kristine and Juliana Meek from Harmon-Meek Gallery. Congratulations to Anthony: He won Best In Show and sold two paintings!!        

       New Artwork Debuts at www.WriteOnMyMind.com: We proudly welcome nine talented children from the David Lawrence Center Art Therapy Program. They are using art to constructively explore their feelings, fears, and hopes and learn valuable life skills, including conflict resolution, emotional intelligence and stress relief. Included below are two of the fifteen pieces on display. More can be viewed at   http://www.writeonmymind.com/the-art-gallery/

Music: We are thrilled to premiere the first two songs submitted to our website Multi-Media Gallery: You Blew Away, music and lyrics by Dammit Eugene; and No Resolve, music and lyrics by Dennis Liegghio, founder of KnowResolve, and performed by The Student Driver Band. Listen to these two moving songs dealing with loss by suicide: http://www.writeonmymind.com/the-video-gallery/

We welcome artwork, photos, poetry, prose and multi-media works created by children, teens and adults for display on our website galleries.  

We welcome Guest Blogger Mary VanHaute. Mary is a suicide prevention educator, trainer and author. She reminds us of the human dimension of our public safety personnel and provides important and helpful advice for First Responders at risk for suicide in her article titled, The Fire that Burns Within. Read her article on our Speakers Forum: http://www.writeonmymind.com/speakers-forum/

Upcoming Presentations & Events: Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter is making presentations at venues throughout SW Florida – and beyond. See below for upcoming presentations. If you have a professional organization, company, civic, social or church group who would be interested in a mental mending presentation, contact her at DeenaBaxter2@gmail.com for more information. View a summary of past presentations and photos at: http://www.writeonmymind.com/whats-news/.

Here are some upcoming presentations. 

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Thursday, April 6, 2017
Time: 6:15pm – 7:15pm
Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Stephen Ministry Monthly Meeting
777 Mooring Line Dr, Naples, FL 34102
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: SURVIVING SUICIDE – Mending the Family Tree with Heartache, Art and Humor
This is a closed event
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL
Crisis Intervention Training (C.I.T.) Consumer Panel Presentation
Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter will be a panelist
6216 Trail Boulevard, Building C, Naples, FL 34108-2835
This is a closed event.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00pm, Lunch Speaker
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Missouri
NAMI-Missouri Annual Conference
Holiday Inn Expo Center
2200 I-70 Drive S.W., Columbia, MO 65203
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: SURVIVING SUICIDE – Mending the Family Tree with Heartache, Art and Humor
Book signing with all proceeds flowing to NAMI-MO
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Friday, May 19, 2017
Time: 12:30pm Luncheon Speaker
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Michigan
NAMI-Michigan Annual Conference
Detroit Marriot Livonia
17100 Laurel Park Drive North, Livonia, MI 48152 
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: OUT TO LUNCH – Searching for “Normal” After Suicide
Book signing with all proceeds flowing to NAMI-MI
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Conference Time: 10:00am – 3:00pm
Presentation Time: 11:00am
Survivors of Suicide (S.O.S.) Macomb County, MI, Annual Conference
Macomb Intermediate School District Building
44001 Garfield Rd., Clinton Township MI 48038
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: MENTAL MENDING – Searching for “Normal” After Suicide
Book signing with all proceeds flowing to S.O.S. Macomb County, MI
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL
Crisis Intervention Training (C.I.T.) Consumer Panel Presentation
Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter will be a panelist
6216 Trail Boulevard, Building C, Naples, FL 34108-2835
This is a closed event.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Friday, August 4, 2017
Plenary Presentation: 10:30 – Noon
Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity Biennial Convention
Convention Theme: “Preserving our Future”
Naples Grande Beach Resort
475 Seagate Dr, Naples, FL 34103
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: UNDERSTANDING SUICIDE – A Lived Story of Sudden Loss & Search for “Normal”
For members only. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, November 11, 2017 
Presentation Time: oon – 1:00pm
The Silent Epidemic: A Conference on Suicide
Hosted by The Kevin’s Song Foundation
The Inn at St. John’s, 44045 Five Mile Road, Plymouth MI 48170
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: TBA
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Surviving Suicide - Searching For Normal with Heartache and Humor

About The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project: After losing her youngest adult son to suicide, Deena Baxter launched The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL, in September 2014. The project’s mission is to promote life-affirming mental wellness. It includes a book, a creative arts website, www.WriteOnMyMind.com, and outreach presentations. The book is titled, SURVIVING SUICIDE – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache and Humor: All profit from book sales flows to NAMI of Collier County, FL. Hard copy books are available at Amazon while supply lasts. The eBook is available on Amazon and the Apple store. The book has been endorsed by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. (TAPS).   


Helpful Advice for First Responders At Risk for Suicide: The Fire that Burns Within

The Fire That Burns Within

Mary VanHaute, Author

Suicide Prevention in Public Safety:  The Human Dimension

            “Is he OK?” I pleaded with my brother on the other end of the phone after he told me our brother Charlie had jumped from a bridge. “Is he OK?” I demanded when he didn’t reply.

            “He’s dead,” my brother cried.

            So it began like it has for so many survivors of suicide loss. This marked the first day of my long, informal education about the complex world of grief after suicide and the gargantuan task of preventing any one else from entering this world.

            All of my life, I have lived among public servants—firefighters, medics, and police officers.  Those who didn’t pursue these careers found themselves drawn to another helping profession—nursing.  I chose neither.  Following my brother’s suicide, though, I was enlightened as to how my career as an educator and counselor could be melded into the growing field of suicide prevention. His life would not be defined by the way it ended.  He lived to help others, but could not help himself.  What a gift he left me:  a newfound perspective on what it means to help others and a whole new set of tools to use in the process.

            Helping people in helping professions is an arduous task.  For the last ten years, I have accepted the challenge.  It has introduced me to a huge population of at-risk individuals who validate what I believe contributed to my brother’s untreated depression which ultimately lead to his suicide death.  Of the many risk factors for depression and suicide, the two I see most frequently in this population are the incompatibility of courage and being vulnerable and the insatiable desire to help.

            For many public servants, the thought of needing help is a huge threat to their persona.  Becoming vulnerable and admitting they need assistance with some mental mending is perceived as weak, useless, and not courageous.  Things are changing and through education and training, more people are getting the message:  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but rather a life-saving, courageous step that can enhance your skills on the job.  Yet, it will take a multi-faceted approach to breaking down age-old thinking about the incompatibility of courage and vulnerability. 

            When I’m asked if my brother sought help for his depression, I admit that I don’t know.  Anecdotal information tells me he did, but as I hear from others, it was not an appropriate fit considering his personality and profession.  More needs to be done to bridge those gaps and to educate gatekeepers (front-line personnel) on recognizing signs/symptoms of both depression and suicidal thinking.  Educated, empowered people can make a difference in less acute stages thus minimizing a time when the cry for help is fatal. 

            At my brother’s funeral wake, the fire chaplain for his department spoke words of love and compassion that have sustained me throughout my grief walk.  The most poignant of those words came when he described how my brother died from a fire that burns within rather than from a fire outside his body.  The tyranny of hindsight verifies this statement.  My brother’s life and career was not a proliferation of accolades and achievements.  Rather it was measured by the lives he touched, changed, and ultimately saved.  His insatiable desire to help others not only stoked but also fueled that fire within.  Ultimately, it grew out of control suffocating him and scorching his soul.   

            When I’m asked what (if anything) would have stopped my brother from jumping that beautiful spring morning, I do have an answer.  “Someone needing help.”  I truly believe my brother’s insatiable desire to help was with him even as he felt helplessness.  I believe a stranded motorist on the bridge or even another prospective suicide attempt would have caught his attention activating that innate helping mentality.  No one knows for certain what could have deterred him that day, and I have come to peace knowing he took those answers with him.

            While there are no hard statistics on the number of suicide deaths among the public safety professions, it is widely accepted that more officers, firefighters, medics, and correctional officers die by suicide than die in the line of duty.  The risks they face are far more than what meets the eye of those they serve.  In our suicide prevention efforts, we cannot exclude the unique risks and training needs of this population.  We must value the attributes they bring to the career and help ensure that the fire that burns within does not become deadly. 

About the Author: A suicide prevention educator/trainer, Mary VanHaute has 30 years’ experience in adult education. Her avocation includes years of service to law enforcement related organizations including the coordination of National Police Week ceremonies in Green Bay, WI, where she spearheaded a campaign to build a local tribute to law enforcement. She and her husband Allen, a retired Green Bay police commander, volunteered for both COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors) and the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC. Mary was the recipient of the Todd Ricks award from National COPS as volunteer of the year and held the position of support coordinator on the Wisconsin COPS Board. She has been a regular presenter at Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) sessions throughout Wisconsin speaking on the subject “taking care of our own.” She is also experienced in suicide prevention training for EMS and fire personnel.


A New Year, New Updates – Mending A Broken Humpty Dumpty

We’ve been busy since late autumn with mental mending presentations and advocacy outreach, adding new artwork on our website galleries www.WriteOnMyMind.com and fulfilling book orders.  

Thank you BetterAfter50, Florida Weekly Naples, and the Naples Daily News for helping us encourage folks to put mental health at the top of their Bucket List for 2017: Click here to view our Mending Humpty Dumpty articles: BA50.comFlorida Weekly, Naples Daily News     

Artwork debuts at www.WriteOnMyMind.com: We are happy to announce new life-affirming artwork by Oscar Anthony Azmitia and several other expressive and creative members of the Sarah Ann Adult Drop-In Center, Naples, FL. The artwork by Anthony, Melissa, Sara and others can be viewed at  http://www.writeonmymind.com/the-art-gallery/. We welcome artwork, photos, poetry, prose and multi-media works created by children, teens and adults for display on our website galleries. Two new art projects will debut in the spring.

Book Update: This fall we completed the fulfillment of 45 orders for 2100 hard copies of SURVIVING SUICIDE – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache and Humorby author Deena Baxter. Hard copy books will be available at Amazon while supply lasts. The eBook debuted on Oct. 11, 2016 and is available on Amazon and the Apple store.  

Upcoming Presentations & Events: Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter is making presentations at venues throughout SW Florida – and beyond – for The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project, a partnership with the NAMI-Collier. Since the fall she has given presentations at two NAMI-Collier Crisis Intervention Training sessions for law enforcement first responders; gave the keynote presentation at the November 19th FGCU/AFSP International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day conference at Florida Gulf Coast University; and presented to the Hazelden Family Support Group and to a Stephen Ministry Continuing Ed. group on Feb. 1st, 2017. See below for upcoming presentations. 

If you have a professional organization, company, civic, social or church group who would be interested in a mental mending presentation, contact her at DeenaBaxter2@gmail.com for more information. View a summary of past presentations and photos at: http://www.writeonmymind.com/whats-news/.

Here are some upcoming presentations. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 10:30am – 11:45am
Naples United Church of Christ
Stephen Ministry New Ministers Training for NUCC and First Presbyterian Church
5200 Crayton Rd, Naples, FL 34103
Nelson Hall, 2nd floor, room 207
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: Understanding Suicide – A Lived Story of Sudden Loss & Search for “Normal”
This is a closed event
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00pm, Lunch Speaker
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Missouri
NAMI-Missouri Annual Conference
Holiday Inn Expo Center
2200 I-70 Drive S.W., Columbia, MO 65203
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: SURVIVING SUICIDE – Mending the Family Tree with Heartache, Art and Humor
Book signing with all proceeds flowing to NAMI-MO
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Friday, May 19, 2017
Time: 12:30pm Luncheon Speaker
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Michigan
NAMI-Michigan Annual Conference
Detroit Marriot Livonia
17100 Laurel Park Drive North, Livonia, MI 48152 
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: OUT TO LUNCH – Searching for “Normal” After Suicide
Book signing with all proceeds flowing to NAMI-MI
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Conference Time: 10:00am – 3:00pm
Presentation Time: 11:00am
Survivors of Suicide (S.O.S.) Macomb County, MI, Annual Conference
Macomb Intermediate School District Building
44001 Garfield Rd., Clinton Township MI 48038
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: MENTAL MENDING – Searching for “Normal” After Suicide
Book signing with all proceeds flowing to S.O.S. Macomb County, MI
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Friday, August 4, 2017
Plenary Presentation: 10:30 – Noon
Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity Biennial Convention
Convention Theme: “Preserving our Future”
Naples Grande Beach Resort
475 Seagate Dr, Naples, FL 34103
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: UNDERSTANDING SUICIDE – A Lived Story of Sudden Loss & Search for “Normal”
For members only. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Thursday, November 9 – Saturday, November 11, 2017 
Presentation Time: TBA
The Silent Epidemic: A Conference on Suicide
Hosted by The Kevin’s Song Foundation
The Inn at St. John’s, 44045 Five Mile Road, Plymouth MI 48170
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: TBA
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

About The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project: After losing her youngest adult son to suicide, Deena Baxter launched The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL, in September 2014. The project’s mission is to promote life-affirming mental wellness. It includes a book, a creative arts website, www.WriteOnMyMind.com, and outreach presentations. The book is titled, SURVIVING SUICIDE – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache and Humor: All profit from book sales flows to NAMI of Collier County, FL. Books can be ordered on our website (http://www.namicollier.org/surviving-suicide-order-page/) and from major booksellers. The book has been endorsed by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. (TAPS).   

We wish you good health and a belated Happy 2017,

Deena Baxter & Team NAMI-Collier


Happy New Year – Mending Humpty Dumpty

MENDING HUMPTY DUMPTY 

We learned as children that Humpty Dumpty shattered after falling off the wall. The king and his horseman couldn’t fix him. Luckily for Humpty, the queen and her court patched him up but realized he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD. In addition to mending his body they helped him mend his mind. 

As we launch into another new year, may mental health rank high on our list of New Year’s resolutions to improve our well-being. Why is this important? Because one out of four people suffers from mental illness during their lifetime and it has far-reaching impacts. I experienced it personally when we lost our youngest adult son Kevin to bipolar mental illness in 2012 – death by suicide. 

In our case, Kevin was in denial. Let’s talk about anosognosia – a prominent feature of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It’s a sick person’s unawareness that he or she is ill. That was Kevin’s greatest obstacle. Sadly, some members of my family and our society suffer from it too. How else to explain why my home state of Florida ranks 49th out of 50 in per capita spending for mental health services? 

Bipolar mental illness rocked Kevins world. It was like living with the Peanuts character Pigpen–unending cycles of highs and lows, out-of-control spending, risky behavior and job losses caused by paranoia, aggressive behavior and angry outbursts. Kevin’s erratic behavior started when he was six years old, but he wasn’t definitively diagnosed with bipolar disorder for 25 years, at age 31, five years before his death. 

People often ask me about medications. Yes, Kevin was prescribed psychotropic medications but they all came with significant side effects. He was especially unwilling to live with the sexual side effects. Often, a person needs to try different meds for several months to find the most effective type and dosage. It can work wonders for many who are committed to doing that. However, prescription meds don’t work for everyone. 

Additionally, we are a society that embraces over-medicating and self-medicating. Musician Damon Albas said it well: “In the 60s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it normal.” 

Kevin contributed to his problems by self-medicating. He binged on illegally obtained Ritalin during high school and college; through grad school and beyond, he chose pot and alcohol, a highly toxic brew for someone with bipolar disorder. Once he reached 18, legal adulthood, we were limited getting him into treatment: The stigma of mental illness added another obstacle. 

Kevin’s illness wove its way into our blended family’s DNA, destabilizing the Baxter family love boat. It kept us in a constant state of heightened alertness that was exhausting. We love all three of our sons but Kevin received significantly more financial and emotional support.

Left untreated, mental illness and addiction often isolate the patient and the family. That’s why I’ve partnered with our local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to shine a bright light on this topic. We’re working together to keep our community safer and welcoming for those living with mental illness and impairment as well as those who are not. The focus isn’t on zero-tolerance, an impossible goal. We can’t guarantee 100% safety but safer is definitely better. We can do that by teaching children, teens and adults of all ages about awareness, personal responsibility, safe practices, and watching out for each other.

When we’re feeling overwhelmed in situations that seem too much for us to handle all we need to do is ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness to seek professional help. NAMI’s mission is to improve the quality of life of persons affected by serious and persistent mental illness and their caregivers through support, education and advocacy. My local NAMI helped more than 16,000 children, teens and adults in our community in 2016 and trained more than 1100 law enforcement officers and other first-responders in crisis intervention. NAMI of Collier County, FL, can be contacted at 239-260-7300 or online at http://www.namicollier.org/They provide all services at no cost. To find the NAMI nearest you, click here: http://www.nami.org/.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Deena Baxter launched The Surviving Suicide and Sudden Loss Project in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Collier County in 2014. The project’s mission is to promote life-affirming mental wellness. It includes a book, a creative arts website (www.WriteOnMyMind.com), and mental health advocacy and outreach. The book is titled, Surviving Suicide – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache and Humor. All profit flows to NAMI of Collier County and other non-profit mental health organizations.  


Mental Mending Project Launches New Artwork, an eBook, and Mental Health Presentations

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-5-27-25-pm-copy

 

We’ve been busy over the summer and early autumn with a new artwork project on www.WriteOnMyMind.com, successful distribution of more than 2000 hard copies of SURVIVING SUICIDE – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache and Humor by author Deena Baxter, launch of the eBook today, and mental health presentations and events scheduled for the coming program year. 

Artwork debuts at www.WriteOnMyMind.com: We are thrilled to announce new life-affirming artwork by Oscar Anthony Azmitia and several other talented members of the Sarah Ann Adult Drop-In Center, Naples, FL. The artwork by Anthony, Melissa, Sara and others can be viewed at  http://www.writeonmymind.com/the-art-gallery/. We welcome artwork, photos, poetry, prose and multi-media works created by children, teens and adults for display on our website galleries.

Book Update: This summer, we fulfilled 45 orders for 2100 hard copies of SURVIVING SUICIDE – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache and Humor, by author Deena Baxter. The books were ordered by 38 NAMI State and State Affiliates plus 6 other mental health non-profits and we were unable to fulfill 4 additional orders due to low inventory. Hard copy books will be available at Amazon while supply lasts. We are delighted to announce the Oct. 11, 2016, debut of the eBook on Amazon!

Upcoming Presentations & Events: Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter is making presentations at venues throughout SW Florida – and beyond – for The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project, a partnership with the NAMI-Collier. On Saturday, November 19, she will be the guest speaker at the FGCU/AFSP 2016 International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day Conference at Florida Gulf Coast University. See below for details.

If you have a professional organization, company, civic, social or church group who would be interested in a  mental mending presentation, contact her at DeenaBaxter2@gmail.com for more information. View a summary of past presentations and photos at: http://www.writeonmymind.com/whats-news/.

Here are some upcoming presentations.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Time: Registration 9:00am. Walk starts at 9:45am
AFSP Out of the Darkness walk for Suicide Prevention and Awareness
North Collier Regional Park
15000 Livingston Road, Naples, FL 34109

NAMI-Collier will be hosting a booth
Author Deena Baxter’s book will be gifted to those who make a contribution to AFSP
Open to the public.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL
Crisis Intervention Training (C.I.T.) Consumer Panel Presentation
Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter will be a panelist

6216 Trail Boulevard, Building C
Naples, FL 34108-2835
This is a closed event.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Time: 10:30am – 1:30pm
FGCU/AFSP 2016 International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day Conference
Florida Gulf Coast University
Benn Hill Griffin Hall, Room 109
10501 FGCU Blvd. South, Ft. Myers, FL  33965
11:45am Presenter: Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: SURVIVING SUICIDE – Mending the Family Tree with Heartache, Art and Humor
Author Deena Baxter’s book will be gifted to those who make a contribution to AFSP
Open to the public. Registration required.
R.S.V.P.: Jill Harrington, jharrington@afsp.org, Tel: 561-392-7877 and jrego@fgcu.edu.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Time: 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Naples United Church of Christ
NUCC Stephen Ministry Continuing Education Training
5200 Crayton Rd, Naples, FL 34103
Nelson Hall, 2nd floor, room 207
Presenters: Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter & NAMI-Collier CEO Pamela Baker
Topic: Understanding Suicide – A Lived Story of Sudden Loss & Search for “Normal”
This is a closed event
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Time: 10:30am – 11:45am
Naples United Church of Christ
Stephen Ministry New Ministers Training for NUCC and First Presbyterian Church
5200 Crayton Rd, Naples, FL 34103
Nelson Hall, 2nd floor, room 207
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: Understanding Suicide – A Lived Story of Sudden Loss & Search for “Normal”
This is a closed event
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Time: 11:00am – Noon
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Missouri
NAMI-Missouri Annual Conference
Holiday Inn Expo Center
2200 I-70 Drive S.W., Columbia, MO 65203

Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: MENTAL MENDING – Searching for “Normal” After Suicide

Book signing with all proceeds flowing to NAMI-MO
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
May, 2017
Date & Time: TBA
Survivors of Suicide – Macomb County, Michigan
S.O.S. Macomb County Annual Conference
Location: TBA
Presenter: Author and Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter
Topic: TBA
Book signing with all proceeds flowing to S.O.S. Macomb County, MI
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
May, 2017
Date & Time: TBA
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Michigan
NAMI-Michigan Annual Conference
Topic: TBA
Book signing with all proceeds flowing to NAMI-MI
Open to the public. Registration required.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

About The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project: After losing her youngest adult son to suicide, Deena Baxter launched The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL, in September 2014. The project’s mission is to promote life-affirming mental wellness. It includes a book, a creative arts website, www.WriteOnMyMind.com, and outreach presentations. The book is titled, SURVIVING SUICIDE – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache and Humor: All profit from book sales flows to NAMI of Collier County, FL. Books can be ordered on our website (http://www.namicollier.org/surviving-suicide-order-page/) and from major booksellers. The book has been endorsed by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. (TAPS).

We wish you good health and a Happy Autumn,

Deena Baxter & Team NAMI-Collier

The Surviving Suicide and Sudden Loss Project

Email: DeenaBaxter2@gmail.com

Website: www.WriteOnMyMind.com

 


Honoring Memorial Day by Celebrating Mental Healing & Restoration

MAY UPDATE FROM THE SURVIVING SUICIDE AND SUDDEN LOSS PROJECT

Thank you Florida Weekly, Naples Daily News and BetterAfter50.com for helping us celebrate National Mental Health Month (May), erase the stigma of mental illness, and shine a bright light on the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Collier County, FL. Click here to read the article by Deena Baxter that ran Florida Weekly’s Healthy Living section (Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and Naples editions.)  Click here to read the Naples Daily News Guest Commentary. Click here to read BA50 article.

 

We look forward to launching a new art project with members of HOPE Clubhouse in Fort Myers, FL, this week. Stay tuned for the debut of more artwork in the galleries at http://www.writeonmymind.com.

 

Author & Mental Health Advocate Deena Baxter is making presentations at venues throughout SW Florida – and beyond – for The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project, in partnership with the NAMI-Collier. If you have a professional organization, company, civic, social or church group who would be interested in a  mental mending presentation, contact her at DeenaBaxter2@gmail.com for more information. We also welcome artwork from children, teens and adults for display on our website galleries: http://www.writeonmymind.com/the-art-gallery/.

 

On April 14, Elaine Stoffer, president of the Naples Women’s Cultural Alliance (WCA), welcomed Deena as the guest speaker at the WCA Speaker’s Series. It was an honor to have NAMI-Collier’s new CEO Pamela Baker in the audience.

 

The Kevin’s Song Foundation invited Deena to be the plenary breakfast speaker at The Silent Epidemic: A Conference on Suicide, April 9, 2016, in Plymouth Michigan. Her presentation focused on helpful ways to navigate through sudden loss and shined a bright light on NAMI of Collier County’s mental health programs and services as well as NAMI-Michigan Executive Director Kevin Fischer and local NAMI staff. Click here to view a summary of the conference and photos: http://www.writeonmymind.com/whats-news/.

 

Collier Citizen (FL), the New York Times and The Washington Post published important articles on suicide in late April. Links to the three articles and Deena’s NY Times letter to the editor have been posted at http://www.writeonmymind.com/whats-news/.

 

About The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project: After losing her youngest adult son to suicide, Deena Baxter launched The Surviving Suicide & Sudden Loss Project in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County, FL, in September 2014. The project’s mission is to promote life-affirming mental wellness. It includes a book, a creative arts website, www.WriteOnMyMind.com, and outreach presentations. The book is titled, SURVIVING SUICIDE – Searching for “Normal” with Heartache and Humor: All profit from book sales flows to NAMI of Collier County, FL. Books can be ordered on our website (click here) and from major booksellers. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) endorsed the book and has listed it on their website as a resource. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. (TAPS) has also endorsed her book and includes it in their Survivors Packets for military families.

 

Be safe and well as we honor Memorial Day U.S.A. this coming weekend,
Team NAMI-Collier & Deena Baxter