CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- For the past ten years Shirley Ramsey has poured her heart and soul into suicide prevention awareness.
Using the grief of losing her son, Jackson, to suicide just days after he turned 16, Ramsey’s dedication led her to become a founding board member of the Virginia chapter of the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention.
“Losing Jackson and other family members, I could have dug myself into a hole and struggled to come out," Ramsey said. "But by finding a way to serve in our community for suicide prevention, it made my life a little more whole.”
Ramsey says healing was a long process, but she found ways to get through it.
She even participated in suicide prevention trainings like the one being offered free this weekend to anyone in the community.
She says the upcoming ASIST training held at the Eanes Pittman Safety building in Chesterfield will equip people with what they need in a moment of crisis.
“We actually role play on how to approach people. How to talk to them. How to listen and learn about mental illness and risk factors and warning signs,” Ramsey explained.
She is now the Loss and Healing Coordinator for the Virginia Chapter of AFSP.
Ramsey says nearly 70 percent of the population has been affected by suicide or been concerned about someone who attempted.
She says that’s why this training is so critical by getting the community to understand that anyone can help.
“What ASIST does is it helps us to be good listeners and care. Then you do the follow up. It provides us with resources we need and we even walk away with a wallet card that tells us what to do in a crisis. What language to use,” Ramsey said.
It’s a great opportunity to gain knowledge about suicide, skills to reach out and confidence to help save a life.
“Two out of 5 people ask for help when it comes to mental illness. We want that number to be 5 out of 5. One of the ways to make that happen is to provide education and awareness about suicide prevention and mental illness,” Ramsey added.
Click here to register for the free ASIST training on Nov. 23 and 24 in Chesterfield.
There is still space available for participants. It’s open to the public and first responders.
Ramsey says Saturday is also International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.
Two events will be held to support families who lost a loved one to suicide.
One will be held at the Hilton Richmond Hotel (12042 W. Broad Street) from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
The second Survivor Day event is being held St. Mark’s United Methodist (11551 Lucks Lane in Midlothian) Saturday, Nov. 23 at from 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Ramsey says each year, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention supports hundreds of large and small Survivor Day events around the world.
Suicide loss survivors come together to find connection, understanding and hope through their shared experience.
Survivors can register on site for these two Survivor Day events.