SUICIDE PREVENTION

14-Year Suicide Attempt Survivor Sets Out to Bring Hope and Healing to Others

In January of 2001, four days after attempting to end her life, a twenty-seven year old mother of two wrote the following. “When you start the New Year the way I have, there seems to be nowhere to go but up. Never would I have imagined finding myself at this juncture. I’m without answer to one question; at what point did I begin to lose touch with myself in such a way that I could consider death a suitable solution?” These are the words taken from the personal journal of West Bend resident, Deeatra Kajfosz. As a statistic, she was one of 46 suicide attempts who were hospitalized thatyear. In 2012, eleven years after her attempt, 90 members of our community were admitted as a result of a failed attempt to end their life. The sad truth is, current statistics indicate that the numbers continue to rise. After losing a friend to suicide in June of this past year, Kajfosz set out to use her own life experience, endless hours of research, and personal resources to development and implement a comprehensive suicide awareness, support, and prevention program. The result is LiFE OF HOPE, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, dedicated to reducing the number of suicide attempts and deaths within Washington County.

Community leaders and residents are invited to the free LiFE OF HOPE, Community Launch and Panel Discussion Event. The event is scheduled for Thursday, January 29th at the UWWC campus (room 201) at 7:00pm and will include an introduction to the organization’s 4 LiFE-Saving initiatives and 4 Awareness-Building Fundraisers. Attendees will also hear from four panelists who will share both clinical and personal, intimate insights on the topics of suicide. From the onset of suicide ideation to the influence of mental illness and other risk factors, the focus will be on education and prevention. Kajfosz and panel members will explore how many who have faced suicidal thoughts, attempts, and even the loss of a loved one, go on to live happy, productive lives. Guests will also be welcomed to participate in a Q&A segment which will serve to keep the conversation active during and after the event.

As a successful business professional, community leader, wife, mother, and suicide attempt survivor, Kajfosz believes she is living proof that there is an upside to adversity. “If we have any hope of understanding and deterring future deaths by suicide, we must begin talking about the known risk factors, behaviors, and intervention options. It is in our silence that we continue the cycle”, says Kajfosz. She hopes others from within the community agree and will attend the LiFE OF HOPE launch event to get the conversation started.

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