LiFE OF HOPE in West Bend raises suicide awareness

Editor's note: If you're feeling suicidal or having suicidal thoughts, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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The deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade highlight the rising rate of suicide in the United States. While suicide is typically a taboo subject, the LiFE OF HOPE center in West Bend uses it as a common thread to bind the staff and volunteers together. 

The center's founder Deeatra Kajfosz is a suicide survivor. She says after she made an attempt on her life, she realized there wasn't a place she could go to find education about suicide, peer support or just general help. 

Kajfosz created LiFE of HOPE to bring those elements and the topic of suicide and suicide prevention to the forefront of everyone's mind. 

"When we make suicide a talkable topic and we empower them through education, we have the ability... To impact a life, to save a life," says Kajfosz. 

Due to the recent high profile suicide cases, team members at the center like Awareness Liaison Don Jones, say they're ready for phone calls and questions about suicide. 

"Where are we as a society when it comes to discussing that openly and freely? We have to get to that point," says Jones.

Jones recently had a family member threaten suicide. He says the family felt lost and afraid, but reaching out to LiFE of HOPE together they started talking about suicide and working through it together. 

Amy Schultz is the center's Stabilization Support Specialist. Three years ago Schultz was a client. Struggling emotionally she'd attempted suicide several times throughout her life, on her last attempt something changed.

"I was sure that was the attempt that was going to be the attempt that ended my life. I woke up after that attempt, a number of days later, and just realized that there was a plan for my life," says Schultz.  

According to the Milwaukee County's Medical Examiners, Office suicides increased 40 percent from 2016 to 2017. Kajofsz says suicide is a silent epidemic and society needs to bring the issue to the forefront in order to combat it properly. 
 

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