BG Hamrick 0:23
Hi everybody, BG Hamrick. Welcome once again to the Local Impact Podcast. Glad to have you with us today. Along with me, my co host again this week is Whitney Barnhart. Whitney, welcome to the podcast.
Whitney Barnhart 0:35
Thank you so much. Glad to be here.
BG Hamrick 0:36
Glad to have you. We’ve been having a lot of fun over the last few weeks talking with great community organizations and leaders and learning more about the positive things that are happening in our community around the tri state. And that’s what the Local Impact Podcast is all about. Today, no different we have a couple of really special guests I’m excited to talk with. And Whitney has some great questions to talk to them about their organization. But today is Kelli Talbot. She is hike coordinator. And we’ll tell you more about that in just a few minutes, because you may not understand that right away. And then we have Jason Ferrebee, who’s a volunteer what they call volunteer extraordinare. And glad to have both of those folks, and they are with the organization that we have as a special guest today. I’ll let Whitney introduce you to them. And welcome both of you to the podcast.
Jason Ferrebee 1:24
Kelli Talbott 1:25
Whitney Barnhart 1:27
Yeah, thank you guys so much for being here. You guys are with the what’s the official name for it? Cuz I know this is the West Virginia chapter of a national organization. Correct?
Jason Ferrebee 1:37
Correct. We are the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Whitney Barnhart 1:40
Jason Ferrebee 1:41
West Virginia Chapter.
Whitney Barnhart 1:42
Great. Okay. And so, Jason, I’ll start with you. How do you get to be a volunteer? extraordinare? What? How do you get promoted to extraordinare?
Jason Ferrebee 1:53
Um, I’m just now hearing this, this title. I guess you do stuff for a long time and they combine all titles into one or something I guess would be the answer.
Whitney Barnhart 2:05
Gotcha. Okay. Great. So we are here. So first of all, to talk about the upcoming hike that you guys have. So Kelli, I’ll let you guide us through that what’s coming up how people can get involved all of the information we need to know about that.
Kelli Talbott 2:21
Sure. I, I’ve been volunteering for about six years. And then 2019. I saw that on our site that there was a event called Hike for Hope. So I went to our chair and said, Hey, do we have one of these? It’s right up my alley. I like to hike. And she said no. I said, we’re the Mountain State. What do you mean, we don’t have a Hike for Hope? Like, that’s one event we should have. And she said, No one has stepped up to take it on yet. And I’m like, I’ll do it. So I started the Hike for Hope and got the backing of a lot of our wonderful volunteers. And we had our first Hike for Hope in May of 2019. Last year, it was virtual, of course. So we’re really trying to grow the event. And hopefully I I fully believe that this year is going to be a tremendous success. It’s held on May 22. We’re having it at Coopers Rock just outside of Morgantown this year. So we we have over 100 participants and 15 teams, and we’ve raised right around $20,000 so far.
Whitney Barnhart 3:37
Wow! That’s awesome
Kelli Talbott 3:38
Yeah, we ‘re hoping to increase that amount. So
Whitney Barnhart 3:43
That’s so cool.
Kelli Talbott 3:44
It’s a great time and I’d love to see everybody come and check it out.
Whitney Barnhart 3:49
Absolutely. So can you tell us a little bit more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the West Virginia chapter what you guys do what your goals are things like that?
Kelli Talbott 4:01
Wanna go ahead. Jason?
Jason Ferrebee 4:03
Sure. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is as the global leader in suicide prevention. There are chapters in each state. I believe there are 75 chapters. Each state like ours that are smaller has you know encompasses all say California has several things like that. They focus on education and advocacy and support the communities. So we have a variety of programs. The level of volunteering you can do, you know goes from just emailing your elected representatives to donating also they do a lot of research I don’t want to leave out research very important. So I got involved by doing a Out of the Darkness Walk, which is perhaps the most recognized event that AFSP does around the country and around the world. They do campus walks community walks, and then you know, the Hike for Hope, is kind of new. So that’s how most people know us is from their community walks. That’s how I joined. My first community walk was in 2010. I was participant for two years. And then one of my good friends was asked to chair the event. And she said, Hey, they gave us a walk, let’s do this. And then I ended up being one of the CO coordinators for a little while. And you know, my involvement just grew from there.
Kelli Talbott 5:30
That’s how I found AFSP, too was through one of our signature Out of the Darkness Walks. That’s how it started.
Jason Ferrebee 5:38
That’s where most people start and it’s the organization itself is huge. It’s, it’s they’re wonderful people. We do the National Forum in Washington, DC each year, this year, and again, last year, it was virtual, but it was in place, or in person. There, it’s about 250 advocates from around the country that come in to DC. on a Monday on Tuesday, we go to Capitol Hill and talk to our elected officials on Monday, they put you in a boardroom and just inundate you with information and all these wonderful people, numbers of, of the CDC, all the experts from around the country. Dr. John Draper of the National Lifeline is there each year that Patrick Kennedy, they’re one year, things like that. And it’s just it’s an amazing experience to be around everybody from around the country that are there for the same reason, as we are, you know, Kelli and I both are loss survivors, which make up a large, you know, portion of the people that that, that volunteer with AFSPP also people with lived experience, you know, that have struggled themselves. So,
BG Hamrick 6:52
Can I jump in and ask a question? I’ve been touched by this horrible tragedy a couple of times in my life too not anybody super close to me, but still it leads it leaves a lasting effect on you. And it’s certainly something that all of us should be more aware of. But what can you one of you guys are both help bring to light a little more about, you know, this, this, this problem that that exists in our, in our society where, you know, what, what things should we be looking for? What are some things we should recognize? You know, in my experience in life, a lot of times, you know, I’ve heard of people who have experienced a loved one who committed suicide or took their own life, for whatever reason, some of them were very aware that they were in a, you know, in a in a tough shape and struggling, others couldn’t identify it even maybe, if the characteristics were there, they didn’t they didn’t see them, could we dive into that a little bit, and just do some awareness today for our audiences, so they feel better about, you know, maybe being educated about those who are struggling with, you know, all sorts of of things, and especially in this last year that we’ve been together, you know, trying to grow through this pandemic together and hold each other up. It’s been a tough, tough year. Can you guys just speak to that a little bit and talk about, you know, of course, the main purpose of admission of your particular organization?
Kelli Talbott 8:14
Sure. Um, when talking about those who may be at risk, and some of the warning signs you may look for, there’s several, lots of them. And often, it’s things that when you go back and think about it, you’re like, oh, oh, I did notice that. But I didn’t realize it was a risk or a warning sign. They can say, even something as simple as withdrawing from social events. Normally, they might like to go to concerts with you. And now they’re not withdrawing from friends and family, their hygiene, if they’re not keeping up on their hygiene. And it could be something as simple as maybe your girlfriend quit getting her hair colored or her nails done, they can give away possessions, they can start talking about feeling worthless, they don’t know how they can get out of this rut they’re in, there are so many things, there are so many contributors to look for. So everybody’s story may be a little different. However, they are all a little similar.
BG Hamrick 9:27
Kelli, when they’re like that, when it’s difficult to maybe pinpoint something specifically, what are some things that close that people who are close loved ones can do to I mean, I realize open a conversation, you know, see if we can, you know,
Kelli Talbott 9:39
BG Hamrick 9:40
reach out to them see what what they may be struggling with, or at least get them to open up and talk through some things. Are there other things we should we should try to do? When do we red flag the situation and say, maybe I need to pull somebody in to help me. Maybe there’s something deeper here
Kelli Talbott 9:55
As soon as you notice. As soon as you never as soon as you notice. Never hesitate to reach out and say, Are you okay? Are you struggling? Do you need help? And they may say yes. And they may say no. And if they say no, and you don’t feel that as if they’re being honest, continue to ask if they’re okay. Ask them if they you can get them help. If they need to talk to somebody, you can get them the resources that they need. There are so many out there, and never be afraid to ask the question. Are you thinking of killing yourself? Because you need to ask them that direct question. And it’s been shown in studies that asking that question, if they’re not contemplating it already, will not give them the idea to do it. If if it’s already there, they’ve already thought about it. And if it’s not there, you’re not going to give them the idea to do it.
BG Hamrick 10:47
So overzealousness just opportunity to you
Kelli Talbott 10:51
just need to be forward and ask them. And then if they say no, you know, then that’s that. If they say yes, then you need to proceed forward with this the correct steps of getting them help. And those differ, of course. So Jason, you want to go ahead.
Jason Ferrebee 11:11
Sure A good idea. Always for education for people. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, has a program called Talk Saves Lives. There are some others Living Works, does Safe Talk, Mind Wise, has Signs of Suicide. And they address these issues of what to look for a lot of the things that that Kelli mentioned, getting those to your staff getting those to, you know, myself, I’m a mental health care worker, you know, so, you know, we see a lot of that stuff, we get constant trainings and everything. So having those conversations, you know, having the information out there, and the last year, we’ve been talking about mental health a lot more, because we’re all in a mental health crisis. You know, we’ve all been alienated. You know, we’ve all been, you know, I’m not an alien, and I’m sorry, we’ve all been isolated, you know, and we need connections to people. I myself claim to be, you know, somebody that likes to be at home, I don’t want you know, but same time, I need connection to people, I can’t be at home by myself all the time, you know, we need to be part of the world. So it’s important for us to have awkward conversations, is if you know.
Kelli Talbott 12:33
Sieze the awkward.
Jason Ferrebee 12:34
Right, right. And if you if you sense something is wrong with somebody, you want to be more direct. It’s not it’s not okay. I mean, it’s okay to say, Do you plan on harming yourself, but harming yourself could mean a lot of things. You know, if you use the word directly, you know, have you been thinking of suicide? Are you going to kill yourself? You know, then that is a much more direct, direct question. And that question also to, you know, some people that that are hurting, may need to be asked that it may validate how they’re feeling, you know, they’ve been worried about it, it’s not something that’s easy to say, you know, we also sometimes we talk about people that, you know, their attention getters, you know, when I’m hurt, I need attention, you know, that that’s, that’s, that’s a human feeling that that is very, very common, you know, if I’m lashing out if I’m being angry, if I’m, you know, if I’m being however, you know, then there is something wrong with me. So, you know, we say that in a negative way, but it’s a very, very important thing to keep an eye on. And it never hurts, it never hurts to ask, I’ve never ever offended anybody with a question.
Kelli Talbott 13:41
Every single risk, threat, however you want to call it, every risk of suicide should be taken seriously, never play it off as if oh they’re just trying to get attention. Every everyone should be considered important, and should be taken seriously and addressed appropriately.
BG Hamrick 14:04
Yeah, that’s a message I’ve heard a long for a long, long time. And I think that’s a, I think that’s been a successful message getting out there that people just don’t take it lightly. Never take for granted. Never, never, never withdrawal from asking the question or from from digging deeper. So thank you for sharing that. And if there’s anybody in our listening audience that wants to dig deeper, I’m sure there’s some great resources. And we’ll talk about those I’m sure, with Whitney here in a moment on your on your website and through your organization. And we’ll make sure we have all the contact information later on in the show notes so people can get that but we’ll move on to some questions about the organization, some projects and maybe fundraisers and other things that you guys are doing. So I’ll let Whitney take that.
Whitney Barnhart 14:42
Yeah. Just like really quickly before we dive into that, Jason, you said you’ve never offended anybody by asking them that question. And I think that’s that’s a great thing to mention. But also even if, if we were to offend someone, I would personally rather offend someone than lose someone. So I think it’s it’s super important. to not worry so much about how they’re going to react and, and, you know, go for it and potentially save a life. So I just wanted to say that I know some people are like, I don’t want to upset anybody. Upset them. It’s okay.
Jason Ferrebee 15:13
We see that a lot. You’re exactly right. We see that a lot in the children. You know, they don’t want to have awkward conversations, and they don’t want to hurt their friend’s feelings. But we have to encourage them that, you know, your friend may be mad at you, but at the same time, they’re getting the help they need. So we, sometimes life is hard. And sometimes there’s tough conversations, and we have to have them.
Whitney Barnhart 15:32
Yeah, absolutely. So I know that a big portion of your all’s organization and just suicide prevention in general is education. The biggest problem I would imagine is lack of education, lack of awareness about things. So what sort of suicide prevention education programs do you guys offer the public?
Kelli Talbott 15:54
Whitney Barnhart 15:54
Unknown Speaker 15:55
Yeah. AFSP offers Talk Saves Lives. And then More than Sad is for for kids, for students. We also offer from time to time programs from Living Works, called Safe Talk, and which is a presentation and then we have trainings, ASSIST is suicide intervention. And it’s a couple of days, and it’s actually a training and it’s more in depth and how to have the conversations and things like that. Those are a few. For youth presentations, we use Mind Wise SOS, which is Signs of Suicide. And that’s a pretty good program, too. There’s one geared for middle school, high school, and then for for staff and adults. What am I forgetting, Kelli?
Kelli Talbott 16:45
There’s the new, the newest for elementary level students, which is Gizmo. It’s about a dog, and it is appropriate for elementary aged children, I do not have a lot of information on that as it is very, very new. We’re hoping to implement that training in the state very, very soon, hopefully looking forward to it this summer, to be held even in the children’s areas, libraries, malls everywhere. So we also have the Seize the Awkward campaign, it’s also like an in-school training, that maybe that maybe all of them, I think he covered most of them. Right?
Whitney Barnhart 17:29
How can people find those and get access to those if they want to learn more?
Kelli Talbott 17:34
Jason Ferrebee 17:36
Yeah, that is our main resource. afsp.org.
Kelli Talbott 17:39
There’s lots though.
Jason Ferrebee 17:41
Social media: AFSP, West Virginia, on Facebook. AFSP_WV on Instagram, and at AFSP_WV on Twitter. And we’re good about posting up events and trainings and things like that. Each day.
Whitney Barnhart 18:06
Great. And if somebody had an organization or a place that they wanted you guys to come to and bring a training to, could they reach out to you for that as well?
Jason Ferrebee 18:17
Whitney Barnhart 18:18
Through those same resources?
Jason Ferrebee 18:20
Yes. Also, we can help out a lot of things that we’re able to provide because of the money we raised is at no cost to the person or the company, that that is available. That’s not always the case. But that we would never keep that money would never be the reason for us not being able to provide a service. Again, you know, we you know, it takes money to operate, but that’s what the fundraisers are for and stuff. So it helps out with, with a lot of local companies here. I know.
Kelli Talbott 18:50
We’re the largest nonprofit and suicide prevention, and we do everything because of donations and fundraising and sponsorships. That’s why our events are such a key part of making AFSP work.
Whitney Barnhart 19:09
Yeah, we’re definitely going to get into more of those fundraisers and how our listeners and people around can help. But before we do, a lot of people, like you guys said, are survivors of suicide loss, people that are close to them, people that they loved, ended their own lives and they, you know, don’t know what to do now. They don’t know how to go on. Maybe they feel guilty. Maybe they feel like they could have done something. What sort of resources do you guys offer to those people that may be feeling that way or may have experienced something like that in their lives?
Kelli Talbott 19:42
Healing Conversations. Healing Conversations, is a program designed for survivors of suicide loss. They connect you with volunteers who have also had a loss of suicide, and we try to connect to them with experiences. So if say you’ve lost your sibling, we try to connect you with a volunteer who has also lost a sibling to suicide. It’s not always the case. But we try our hardest, just to offer guidance. And just to talk, it’s it’s one of the best programs. And I’m glad and proud that we have it here in our state. And you can find any of this at afsp.org/findsupport.
Jason Ferrebee 20:32
we’ve been offer, we’ve been able to offer bereavement groups in the past, the pandemic shut down, those temporarily, we’re not sure you know, exactly when we can get back at varies from place to place. So those are projects we’re working on, we would like those in as many communities as possible. Those take volunteers, volunteers are always needed. So everybody has their level of availability and what they’re able to do even for their own safety. You know, we want people to be to participate, but we want to keep them safe at the same time.
Whitney Barnhart 21:08
Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s a great program to be able to offer people, some hope and the realization that you’re not alone, and other people, you know, can be there to offer you support. So if someone is maybe on the other side of that conversation, and they are feeling low, and they are feeling hopeless, and thoughts that they may try to end their life, what do what do they do? What can they do to get help through you guys?
Jason Ferrebee 21:34
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. 8255 is also TALK. So it’s one 800 273 TALK, that is 24 hours, there is a text line that is 7407. I’m sorry, 741741. kids like to text moreso than talk. So that’s one that we encourage, those are trained, trained individuals that answer and in those call centers, and it’s it’s anonymous, that you’re able to, you know, to give whatever information you’re comfortable about, and they’re 24/7, so that that access is which the calls try to keep them as local to where you are as possible. There’s an option for veterans as well, that you can link to another veteran. So that is very helpful. I know. regionally, there are crisis numbers. Westbrook has a crisis number here in Parkersburg crisis line that you’re able to call.
Whitney Barnhart 22:38
Awesome. That’s great. And those are 24/7, so you never have to worry about checking hours or availability or anything that is available all the time. So that’s, that’s really spectacular. I also saw on your Facebook that you guys are having a Mental Health for All fundraiser that’s running right now. Can you give us a little bit of information about that, how we can help out what we what you guys need, stuff like that.
Jason Ferrebee 23:02
Kelli Talbott 23:03
Oh, sorry. I’m just trying not to talk over everyone.
Jason Ferrebee 23:09
Yeah, that’s okay.
Kelli Talbott 23:10
We have multiple fundraisers going on. We actually just had a Ramp Dinner, and Jane Lu at Rock Springs Tavern. And they, they were it was amazing. They were so successful and, and totally blew away their goal. And it’s just in the end, the girl who put on the fundraiser has been touched by suicide and she wants to make a different difference. So she wants to help and she had a fundraiser and had a Ramp Dinner. I had Ramps for the first time ever in my life. I’m officially a West Virginian and I guess now. Individuals holding fundraisers like this are what help the state so much. We have several events coming up that are third party events like the Hike. The Hike is an AFSP event but it’s considered a third party event. We have the River of Hope, which I’m looking forward to it’s a fundraiser. It is the River of Hope it’s coming up June 12 and 13th. You can find all of that information on our Facebook page or our website. They are going to kayak and fish on I think the Tug and Guyandotte I never know if I’m saying that right?
Whitney Barnhart 24:45
Kelli Talbott 24:46
Yeah, I’m really looking forward to that event. And then July 17. We are having our first ever it’s a Tour of Hope. It’s a bicycle ride and it’ll be held and I believe Point Pleasant. I’ve not heard many details about that. But I do know the date and the name. So and we actually have Inspiration Nation launching this month during Mental Health Month. It’s not a fundraiser, but it’s going to be a group of youth for the youth and it’s Autumn G. She’s a singer here in West Virginia. She is leading the crew, and we will be in Charleston, May 15. Week Saturday next Saturday, launching the Inspiration Nation when we’re really really excited about that, too. So
Jason Ferrebee 25:40
This fall will be our, our Out of the Darkness Walk season.
Kelli Talbott 25:45
Jason Ferrebee 25:46
There’ll be several walks around the state. Parkersburg Wheeling, Morgantown, Eastern Panhandle,
Kelli Talbott 25:52
Jason Ferrebee 25:53
Kelli Talbott 25:57
Yes, I believe so. And then Martin, Martinsburg, Eastern Panhandle,
Jason Ferrebee 26:02
and then there’s one in the southern part of the state,
Kelli Talbott 26:04
There’s seven or eight of them. These are, as Jason said earlier, our signature events, those are what raise the most money for us. And they’re they’re wonderful event to attend, you want to tell them about it?
Jason Ferrebee 26:17
Sure, the walks generally there’s a registration period, we’ve changed it around so you can pre register. So you don’t have to stand in line as long. It’s kind of a mixer, we have different members of the healthcare community that can set up tables and resources that are available, we’re get a DJ here in Parkersburg, listen to some music, then we have like an opening speaker to we have a bead ceremony, there are nine different beads that afsp uses, depending on they all represent a certain kind of loss and support for the cause. And then we have a person that stands up for each of those beads. And we talked a little bit about their story, and you know, how they’ve came to the event, what’s brought them to the event, and which is really moving really very inspirational. You know, you’ve when when I was part of that ceremony, I felt a great weight was lifted off of me. You know, some of us, I lost my dad and one of my best friends to suicide, I lost my dad 1994 It’s been a long time, things have changed a lot. Since then I carried a lot of shame with me for a lot of years. That’s, that’s not something I have to do anymore. It’s something I would hope that other people don’t have to do. And that’s part of why I do what I do. But you know, to stand up in front of people and just have that release is just a great, it’s just a great experience. Then of course we walk we walk for for however long we’ve in the past, we’ve walked up to the high school and back left the park, sometimes we just walk around the park for an hour or two. And then there’s usually a closing ceremonies that we’ve done everything from releasing doves to having butterflies to back when you could release balloons, which we found out is not a good idea anymore, but we didn’t know so but but that was fun. You know more music and you know, just some fellowship, it’s really good to be connected. And to be safe. We keep a lot of safety team around of resource people ready in case you know anybody gets upset or needs somebody to talk to you. There’s always there’s always someone there a booth there if you need to, if you need somebody to talk to. It’s really a great day.
Kelli Talbott 28:39
I’d like to add, I always fear that there are two things that keep people from attending our events. I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels this way. But I always worry. Just like the hike. And as for our walks, I always feel that people don’t come because they are unable to walk or hike.
Jason Ferrebee 28:59
Kelli Talbott 28:59
We know that some people are unable. We want you to attend if you want to support our cause or if suicide has touched your life, but you’re unable to walk or hike. It’s okay. We always have people who stay back for those who are unable to walk. We just want you there. And then I always also fear that people think it’s it’s sad that I fear that they think oh my gosh, it’s an event for suicide. That can’t be any good. They’re probably all sad and in a circle crying. That is not at all. Jason likes my little saying; I always say we’re the happiest sad people you’ll ever meet. We we don’t want anyone to be sad. We want you to come and it’s there’s no better way to raise awareness than to be out where people can see you. And that’s that’s how we you know how we do it. We want people to see that it has touched our lives. And that we want, we want to raise awareness and nobody else has to feel what we’ve, what we’ve had to feel. And that’s, that’s what these events are all about is to join the people. You know, it’s, it’s that like the honor beads Jason was talking about that we wear, I wear orange for the loss of a sibling because I lost my sister to suicide. And when I look around at the crowd, and I see another person wearing orange beads, you know my hearts with them, my hearts with everybody, but knowing that that person has experienced the same kind of loss that I have, I don’t want anyone else to feel what I’ve had to feel. But there’s there’s a small sense of comfort knowing that someone understands your exact loss. Suicide, a loss to suicide is not better, or worse than any other kind of loss, but it is different. And unless you’ve been touched by I don’t think you can mine My opinion you can’t fully understand. So that the honor beads, you know, we were those in honor of our loved ones. And to know that there’s someone else who understands your exact loss is, is comforting, in some ways to some
Jason Ferrebee 29:56
It is. But you know, I’m laugh or a laugh or cry kind of person. So I tend to cut up and have fun. And I certainly wouldn’t want to ever offend anybody or make light of anybody else’s pain. But you know, I do have a good time at the walk. It’s okay. And sometimes I cry too, you know, that’s just how it goes. But but I’ve always felt very included being there. And I would hope that everybody else would, too. We have tables, we paint rocks, with the kids and stuff. So we usually have a couple activities for the kids to do. So they’re you know, they’re excited about it as well being there and helps the parents out gives them a more, you know.
BG Hamrick 32:01
Unknown Speaker 32:03
That’s really amazing. That sounds like a really great thing to be a part of, and especially you mentioned that that kayaking on the Guyandotte. that’s right in my backyard. So yeah, I’m looking forward to that. I might have to check that out with you guys. But I also love that you talk so much. Oh, go ahead. Sorry.
Kelli Talbott 32:19
Oh, no, I was just gonna say that was a volunteer, a very new volunteer who just stepped up and said, I want to make a difference. I’d like to host this fundraiser event. And we went with it. And we’re very excited about it. So
Jason Ferrebee 32:34
it is as Kelli has talked about the the Hike for Hope will eventually be moving around the state. Our first photo was at Seneca Rocks, I think it’s going to be in Cooper’s Rock for for a little bit. And then we’ll be looking for other places in West Virginia is not short on amazing places to be now that’ll that’ll also help with people being able to attend. moving it around and
BG Hamrick 32:57
Kelli Talbott 32:58
That was my original my original vision. I had picked Seneca Rocks because it has actually a close meaning to me. For the first event I said I know the perfect place the perfect hike. And this year, it’s nice because it’s at Cooper’s Rock, which is right in my backyard. But I’m I’m looking forward to highlighting all of our amazing state parks and other parks and trails all around the state. I’m glad you mentioned that Jason.
Jason Ferrebee 33:28
Yeah, the first time I’d gone to Cooper’s Rock I was or I’m sorry, Seneca, Seneca Rocks, I was very young and I went with my dad and my family. And the last time I was there before the Hike for Hope I was there with my best friend that I lost. So it was a very special place for me. And we, after the event, we all a lot of us volunteers had dinner together. And it was amazing events. You know, one point we were talking and I said to my wife, this is going to be one of those days, because we had our kids with this one because it’s gonna be one of these days, we always remember and we always talk about because it was such a good family day for us and everything. And as volunteers we’ve become family. I’m like, like Kelli says we’re the happiest sad people ever, you know, we have a connection. Nobody none of us want to be part of this group.
Kelli Talbott 34:14
Jason Ferrebee 34:15
We wish we didn’t have a connection to it, but but since we do we do what we can with it we use our voices and hopes that we can support others.
Kelli Talbott 34:25
Whitney Barnhart 34:26
That’s amazing. That’s so inspiring that through such tragedy and you know, such horrible loss, you can find something beautiful, like a new family, a second families and you know, close friends and stuff. So that’s really great that you guys have created that community and that other people can come and join that community as well. I also love that you guys have so many programs for teens and children and starting that conversation young and education young. So it’s not a subject that you shy away from or you press down and don’t talk about because you’re afraid of, you know how people react. It’s something that can be out in the open, and we can discuss and really, hopefully save some lives with the education. And nother great way is to volunteer.
Jason Ferrebee 35:14
Oh, I’m sorry.
Whitney Barnhart 35:15
No, no, go ahead, go ahead.
Jason Ferrebee 35:17
I can, I can honestly say that AFSP has changed my life. I was in the restaurant business for 25 years, I was invited to go and represent West Virginia, at the National Advocacy Forum to go to DC. I sat in that ballroom with all those other advocates, I went to Capitol Hill, I talked to our senators, you know, I was given this opportunity. After doing that, I went back to my job, which was, which was a fine job, which was a good job that I really enjoyed. But I couldn’t do it anymore. There, I needed a purpose I needed, I needed something, you know, and that has led me to my current job. Now, I got out of my comfort zone. You know, I work for a mental health agency here in town, and I do suicide prevention work. Without AFSP, I don’t think I would have ever started to address my loss and, and, and, and how things have turned out for me. So you never know, the one of the worst days of my life has turned in to some of the best days of my life. It’s got me sitting across the desk from a senator. You know, I’m talking so you know, that it’s, it’s, it’s hope. And that’s what we all that’s what we all live on.
BG Hamrick 36:33
It is, truly is.
Kelli Talbott 36:35
We advocate not only at, at the national level, but our state level at our state level, too. I can’t, as Jason said, I can’t even begin to explain the feeling you have when you attend one of our capital days, or if you’re fortunate enough, like Jason to go to DC, it’s when you get to start talking to your delegates and senators. And, you know, you feel like you’re really making a difference, like your voice is being heard. And that’s what they’re there for, to hear from their constituents about the changes. And we try to, you know, let the voices be heard. And we have bills we push, you know, to be passed. And it’s, it’s amazing to know that you’re a part of that,
Jason Ferrebee 37:26
then those those bills and that advocacy has, will have long term effects. We have Jamie’s Law that Michelle Turman was able to pass that has suicide prevention education in West Virginia to middle school and high school students. You know, that’s a direct result of those efforts of her efforts and all of our efforts together, there is going to be a a national emergency phone number 988 that is going to roll out in June of 2022. Next year, that is from efforts of people like ourselves, you know, advocates pushing for the need of these things and organizations joining together and getting that done. So, um, you know, our voices are important. Everybody, everybody’s is.
BG Hamrick 38:16
Yeah, absolutely. You guys have been tremendous. And in such great information you provided. I mean, we really, really appreciate you being here. I hope you’ll take a message back to Amanda and tell her the Local Impact wants to be a friend to your organization, we really want to get the word out. I know when we pepper you with all these questions today. Sometimes it’s hard to remember all that you maybe should say, and you may think of things even after the podcast is over, please communicate that back to us. We’ll share it with our community, we’ll let people know that you know what’s going on. And Whitney, I don’t know about you. But our first season of this podcast is going to end next month in June. But we’re coming back in October. And I think we ought to go ahead and talk about that Out of the Darkness. Maybe have you guys come back? Would you come back and be on another podcast episode? And maybe we can. We can kind of rejuvenate the whole excitement about about the events and what you’re doing. And Whitney, I don’t know if you have any other questions, but I think I just wanted to thank you guys for being here. And I’ll wrap up unless you have something, Whitney, today.
Whitney Barnhart 39:15
I just want to ask how people can get involved. I mean, this has been super inspirational. And I know you guys need donations and you need volunteers. What’s the best way that people can help you do what you do and do it without worry of funds or hands on deck?
Jason Ferrebee 39:30
AFSP.org is the start that is where all the information is. You can select state. You can select by chapter, you can look for whatever is close to you, regionally. Our volunteers do everything from email elected officials, to running bereavement groups and everything in between. You know there’s different levels of commitment Always with the fundraising, look for Hike for Hope Out of the Darkness, these events that you can, that you can fundraise too, you know, $5 buys a DVD that’s going to go into a classroom. So there’s, there’s not a money amount, you know, that that is too little that helps us out. And that’s and that’s how we operate. And it’s really makes it makes a big difference. And I’d also like to thank you all for having us. And being a great community partners. This is exactly what we need for awareness is is great people like you to give us a chance to talk.
BG Hamrick 40:35
I appreciate that.
Whitney Barnhart 40:36
Pleasure. Absolutely. Our pleasure.
Unknown Speaker 40:38
You can even you can even just show up to one of our events, right? find out who’s in charge and say I want to help. Literally, it’s that easy show up to one of our events, or as Jason said, go to afsp.org, message us on Facebook, you can comment on Facebook, the afsp.org as Jason said, you can select your state, it’ll connect you to our chapter with and there’s volunteer forms, there’s the email for our area director and I believe our chair so yeah, it’s just reach out or show up to an event and be like, I’ll help! We could use help setting up for events tearing down, there’s there’s literally a job for anyone and everyone.
Whitney Barnhart 41:25
BG Hamrick 41:26
Fantastic. I love that. No no roadblocks to being able to help No, no entry gateway to get there. Just be be a part of it. Thank you two, for all that you do. Thank you for taking the tragedy of your lives and turn it around and, and helping others and I’d like to say you know, also say since we’re talking about, you know, anybody can volunteer, you may feel like you have to have been personally affected by suicide to help but you don’t you can-
Kelli Talbott 41:53
Just care about it.
Unknown Speaker 41:55
Yeah, care about people care about what’s going on in your community to just if you want to be a part of an organization that literally saves lives, this is a great interview to be a part of this is this is not one of those figurative sort of saving lives, organizations. And it’s not that they don’t do great work. But this is a literal, life changing and life rescuing opportunity for for many of us so and we all know people who you know who struggle and I would just encourage you if you’re watching or listening today, you’re feeling in that hopeless and you’re feeling that you know that sadness and you’re not sure which way is up and and and if tomorrow is worth it, your life matters. And there are people who care about you. And there are people who are standing by ready to listen, and to talk to you reach out, call that number one 800 273 TALK, one 800 273 TALK, make sure you reach out to someone, text them 741741 if you’re listening or watching, if you have a loved one who you feel like might be in the situation, make that awkward conversation with them and make sure that you you do your part to rescue the life of someone we all love and need in our lives. So thank you again.
Kelli Talbott 43:05
Thanks for having us.
Jason Ferrebee 43:06
Right. And remember, suicide prevention can be as simple as just being kind.
Unknown Speaker 43:11
Yes, absolutely. That seems to be a trending phrase these days to see it on billboards and bumper stickers, be kind. I hope it’s not just a trending phrase that we just kind of like the way it sounds and we don’t actually do it because we do kind to one another. So thanks, everybody, for watching, listening. Whitney. Thank you. Great, great show. Great questions. We appreciate you getting us connected with this organization. afsp.org. If you need more information, we’ll have all the information on the show notes. Thanks, everybody. We’ll see you next time on the Local Impact Podcast.
Jason Ferrebee 43:41
Kelli Talbott 43:42