Health & Wellness

Westfield-Based Crisis Hotline Flooded with Calls After 2 Celebrity Suicides

814cd401e532f1519228_3ee5fb35af8d097fa6e4_IMG_7397.JPG
Ashley Bambo is the supervisor of volunteer operations and a volunteer listener at Caring Contact in Westfield. Credits: Caring Contact
814cd401e532f1519228_3ee5fb35af8d097fa6e4_IMG_7397.JPG

WESTFIELD, NJ — Calls came pouring in to Caring Contact Friday after people awoke to the news of celebrity chef, author and television host Anthony Bourdain’s death by suicide, according to Executive Director Janet Sarkos. Just three days before, celebrity designer Kate Spade had also died by suicide. 

 “The phones have been ringing off the hooks,” Sarkos said. Some are calling because they need help, she said, and many are calling because they are concerned for others.

Though 45,000 people died from suicide in 2016 according to the CDC, often it takes a personal connection to create awareness in people, she explained.

Sign Up for E-News

“What happens with a celebrity suicide is that people feel like they know them,” Sarkos said. “A celebrity suicide feels personal.”

People often feel confused by celebrity suicides, because famous people seem to be at the pinnacle of success, she said.

In addition, “Celebrity suicides bring awareness to the issue of emotional distress, so many people take these feelings more seriously after a celebrity suicide and seek help more readily,” she added.

Caring Contact, which operates out of Westfield, is part of a network of crisis hotlines, and often calls made through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are routed to them. Caring Contact’s phones are answered by volunteers.

“In our little space in New Jersey we answered over 10,000 calls last year,” Sarkos said.  

If you or someone you know is in crisis, she said, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255, is available 24/7. Caring Contact, at 908-232-2880, is available 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., based on volunteer availability. All callers with emergencies should call 800-273-8255, unless a suicide is in progress, in which case they should call 911, she said.

If you’re more comfortable texting, you can text “heart” to 741-741.

When you call the national lifeline, “That call will always be answered and it will always be free,” Sarkos said. “Many people do not realize that the hotline is not only available for people in crisis, but also for those who are worried about another person. We will support the caller's desire to help someone, ask them about the signs they are seeing and give them suggestions about what to do based on the situation.”

Though talking about suicide can seem scary, volunteering and getting trained can be empowering, Sarkos said.

“Suicide is greatly reduced by increased human connection,” she said. “Every person can make a difference in the fight against suicide; all it takes is some training. It's important to get educated about the signs to look for in the people we care about. Then, once we're concerned about suicide, there are steps that anyone can learn to keep people safe.”

Silence, secrecy and shame are the biggest obstacles they face right now, she said.

“Getting comfortable with the idea that some people are in so much pain that they think about suicide is the first step,” Sarkos said. “If we can accept this concept, we will be able to provide a non-judgmental space for the people we care about to share their feelings and get help.”

Caring Contact will offer some classes this summer open to the public:

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is an eight-hour class being offered on July 17 and 24, 6-10 p.m. YMHFA is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a five-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is a 16-hour, two-day interactive workshop in suicide first aid being offered on July 10-11 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Caldwell University in Caldwell New Jersey. ASIST teaches participants to recognize when someone may have thoughts of suicide and work with them to create a plan that will support their immediate safety. Although ASIST is widely used by healthcare providers, participants don't need any formal training to attend the workshop — anyone 16 or older can learn and use the ASIST model.

Caring Contact also offers a two-hour Suicide Awareness and Intervention program and a two-hour Teens Helping Teens to the community several times each year and also privately to organizations. 

Want to get involved? Caring Contact trains volunteers twice each year, in the spring and the fall. The next volunteer class will begin on Sep. 12 and run through Dec. 12. Classes are generally held on Wednesday evenings. Those interested can call me at 908-301-1899, or go directly to their volunteer application at https://caringcontact.org/volunteer-listener-application/

To find out more about about how you can volunteer or bring training to your organization, call Sarkos at 908-301-1899 or email janet.sarkos@caringcontact.org.

Learn more at CaringContact.org.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Three School Buses Involved in Crash at Clark's ALJ High School

June 21, 2018

CLARK, NJ — Three buses collided in the Arthur L. Johnson High School parking lot around noon on Thursday in a chain-reaction crash. 

Students were on board at the time, according to Police Chief Pedro Matos. One driver and two students had minor injuries, Matos said.   

According to a Honeywell alert issued by the Clark Public School District, ...

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on June 19

June 22, 2018

I opened the Board meeting on a somber note, announcing the death of sophomore student Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel.  Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community over his death.  We extend our condolences to the Uziel family.  I noted that school counselors are available for all students or staff who may wish to discuss their feelings ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_494009374f5b6e909328_spb-4937_newsletter_june_22

Fri, June 22, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...

Sports

Fri, June 22, 7:30 PM

Crossroads, Garwood

Benefit Concert

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Between Park Street and Washington Street, Westfield

Walking Tour: What Makes a Great House and ...

Home & Garden

Westfield Police Blotter: Criminal Mischief to Vehicles Continues & More

June 20, 2018

June 13, 2018 9:24 a.m.

Officer Santangelo arrested Hakan Kaya, age 46, of Westfield, New Jersey on an outstanding warrant (#E19490) in the amount of $304.00 out of Neptune City Municipal Court pursuant to turning himself in at WPD Headquarters. Subject was processed and released after posting the full bail amount.

 

June 13, 2018 11:02 a.m.

Lieutenant McFarlean and Officer ...

Susan G. Komen North Jersey Increases Program Funding by 15% for 2018-2019

June 22, 2018

Susan G. Komen North Jersey announced that it will award a total of 13 grants to 11 local community non-profit organizations in its nine-county service area for 2018-2019, with an increase in total program funding at 15 percent year over year. Since its founding in 1997, Komen North Jersey has awarded nearly $19 million to local community programs in nine North Jersey counties and has ...

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

Let's Talk About Suicide

In our world today, it seems our children, no matter the town, state, education, family unit, socioeconomic background, ethnicity or religion are grappling with complex, confounding and complicated issues not even fit for a middle-aged adult. Sadly, one of these issues is suicide. With mental health gaining more attention, the stigma appears to be dissipating but when a mental health ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...

Understand the New Law for Paid Sick Leave

Paid sick leave is now the law in New Jersey.

New Jersey has passed a paid sick leave law which preempts paid sick leave ordinances adopted by several cities and towns so there is now one uniform law in this area for New Jersey employers. Here is what you need to know about the new law.

33 Homes Sold June 10 to June 17 in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Thirty-three Homes sold from June 10 to June 17, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Cranford and Mountainside.*

 

TOWN         ADDRESS                      STYLE    ...

Westfield 3rd Graders Receive Top Honors at Mock Trial Competition

Westfield third graders recently received top honors for three mock court cases they presented at the New Jersey Bar Foundation Law Fair.

“I am proud that, out of 84 entries submitted, our third grade students (now fourth graders) in the Gifted Program have won 1st Place, 2nd Place and Honorable Mention in the 3rd Grade category [of the Law Fair ...

Maximizing Your Portfolio’s Returns -- Beware the Taxman

The old adage in the investment world is that it is not what you make, but what you keep that counts.  Investors often overlook the ultimate deflator of portfolio returns – the taxman. An astute global asset allocation should be the number one priority for investors.  However, there are preferred ways to distribute this asset allocation over the spectrum of taxable and ...

Greatness

In honor of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's (of righteous memory) 24th  Yahrtzeit (anniversary of his passing) this coming Saturday the 16th.

Excerpts from an address given by Nobel-laureate Elie Wiesel on April 7, 1992, at a congressional dinner held in Washington on the occasion of the Rebbe's 90th birthday.

Some of you are aware of my admiration, not only ...

Healthy U Spring Symposium Marks 10 Years of Community Impact

WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 100 Healthy U champions and partners from YMCAs and schools from all over the state gathered at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on May 18 to celebrate 10 years of community impact. Healthy U was also formally presented with the 2017 CATCH® Award for Excellence in State Health. 

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is the ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...

Bridgewater Mall Shut Down for 2 Hours After Fight Breaks Out

June 14, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ — No injuries have been reported after a fight involving a crowd of people shut down the Bridgewater Commons Mall for two hours Thursday evening.

According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall was resuming normal business operations.

According to Somerset County ...

Obituaries

Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more