Free event features nationally known speaker
Clint Riese and Jon Tatting
Forest Lake Times
Local nonprofit Stomp Out Suicide has made a large impact in just two years. Founded by Sean and Katie Haines, the parents of Alissa Haines, a Wyoming 15-year-old who died by suicide in 2011, the educational organization strives to spark conversation about suicide prevention and awareness.
In 2012, about 800 people turned out for a memorial 5K in Wyoming’s Goodview Park. That number increased for the second-annual “Race For Awareness.”
Also in 2013, more than 350 people attended a dinner and resource fair hosted by Stomp Out Suicide, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, and the Forest Lake Area Partnership for Families.
Despite the young organization’s success, Stomp Out Suicide’s volunteer staff refuses to rest while there’s still work to be done.
The organization’s next big moment comes Friday, March 21, with a free “Stop the Stigma” event featuring nationally known comic Kevin Breel.
He raises awareness of depression and suicide prevention by combining comedy with an honest and hopeful conversation about mental health. Breel has appeared on MTV and Good Morning America and been featured in The Huffington Post. His presentation, “Confessions of a Depressed Comic,” went viral online, with more than half a million views in less than 30 days, and is one of the most watched TED talks of all time. (TED is a series of global conferences shared online that stem from a 1984 conference on technology and design.)
Sean Haines reached out to Breel after viewing a clip someone posted to Stomp Out Suicide’s Facebook page. He did not know the degree of Breel’s fame at that time, so he is impressed that Breel agreed to come.
Stomp Out Suicide is using funds raised at the Race for Awareness to cover Breel’s expenses, meaning no admission will be charged for his appearance at 7 p.m. March 21 in the high school auditorium.
Getting the message out there for free is the best way to attack the stigma the event’s title refers to, Haines said.
“Youth and adults need to understand it’s OK to reach out,” he said. “We want everyone to get out here to hear Kevin speak and spread the word. The more we can keep the message in front of people, the better the odds that we may be able to get someone the help they need.”
Breel has become an in-demand speaker at schools all over North America. Stomp Out Suicide and the Forest Lake Area Partnership for Families will also bring Breel to North Branch and Chisago Lakes high schools during school-day symposiums, also on March 21.
Originally scheduled for Feb. 13, the “Stop the Stigma” event will also feature a mental health resource fair put on by the Forest Lake Area Partnership for Families starting at 5:30 p.m.
Guests are welcome to enjoy free pizza and refreshments while they last, courtesy of Canvas Health. Stomp Out Suicide will also have a booth selling its new line of T-shirts featuring inspirational quotes. The resource fair concludes at 6:45 p.m. to allow guests to move into the auditorium.
For more information on the event or its sponsors, visit www.stompoutsuicide.com or http://flapf.org.