NAMI is a local Long Beach business that offers research-based training that can help you identify, address, and refer those suffering from mental illness.
By John Grossi
Do you know someone who has died by suicide? Do you think you know someone who has thought about suicide?
Sadly, for a majority of people, the answer to both of those questions is yes.
Do you know the simple, yet scientifically and statistically backed actions you could take to help someone experiencing mental health issues? Steps that could potentially save their life?
For a majority of people, the answer to that question is probably no.
Jolissa Hebard had to confront these cold hard facts about mental health head on when her son attempted suicide. He survived… thanks to what she calls miracle workers at St. Mary’s Hospital in Long Beach.
In the aftermath of her son’s attempt, Jolissa found herself questioning a life-long mantra. Everything happens for a reason. What could possibly be the reason for this?
“I’ve realized that sometimes the reason sucks, but I still believe everything happens for a reason,” says Jolissa.
Jolissa’s recounting of her son’s story is nothing short of heartbreaking. Nine years later, she still can’t help but cry as she relates her son’s devastating experience. Fighting back the tears, she persists, “Suicide is one of the most common forms of death and 100% the most preventable.”
The problem, Jolissa points out, is that no one talks about it. “Suicide is as old as humanity, yet people still want to act like it doesn’t exist.” The problem with not talking with loved ones about something as crucial as their mental health is that the people experiencing mental health issues feel they are alone.
You Are Not Alone
Jolissa’s son first started having suicidal thoughts when he was eight. That seems shocking to some but suicide has been documented in children as young as five. When Jolissa’s son almost took his own life as a high school teen, he had been living with pain for almost a decade. He felt no one would understand his years of loneliness. That feeling of pain and of being a burden… and the understandable but erroneous accompanying thought that no one else is experiencing it at such a high level… as it turns out, this thought process is extremely common. Yet, far too many individuals in our community continue to feel... oh so alone.
“When you talk about something, it takes the power out of it,” acknowledges Jolissa. “We need to talk about these things or else the experiences and emotions stay isolated and feel overwhelming.”
She noticed -- after her son’s experience -- how many friends (people she knew for years) came out of the woodwork to share their similar experiences with suicide. People she had known for decades but who never talked about their loved ones’ suicides. What she realized almost immediately, however, is most people sweep such stories under the rug. The lives of their loved ones lost to suicide were now taboo.
Jolissa saw the power of isolation and secrecy and how it was hurting individuals. She was drawn toward the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) slogan because she knew it had the power to combat suicide. Their slogan is simple but powerful: You Are Not Alone.
Book A Free
Mental Health First Aid Training Class
Calling all companies, families, organizations, clubs, friend groups, and individuals!! There is something you can do to help fight Mental Illness. It is easy, convenient, and free!!
Jolissa, working through NAMI of Long Beach/Los Angeles Chapter, has received a grant from the Dignity Health Cultural Trauma and Mental Health Resiliency Project. That’s a lot of words to say that now through November 2022, Jolissa will meet you and others in your group anywhere, anytime to lead you through important research-based training that can help you identify, address, and refer those suffering from mental illness.
Two courses are
• The QPR Course (Question, Persuade, Refer) is a basic suicide awareness class loosely based off the idea of CPR training. Basic CPR training can potentially save a life. So can QPR. Length: 1.5 hours.
• Mental Health First Aid is a highly regarded, international, evidence-based program that dives in-depth into the realities, challenges, background, and outcomes of mental illness. This course involves 2.5 hours of at-home, self-paced online training before attending in-person training with an instructor, who in this case is Jolissa herself. The in-person training can be done in one 6-hour session or two 3-hour sessions. Youth & Adult versions available.
Through an unbelievably tough life experience, Jolissa has found her calling. She believes our entire community can come together to fight suicide and learn more about mental health. The grant for free training covers anyone living, working in, or attending school in Long Beach and the surrounding cities.
For more information or to schedule a class, please contact: