From Our Editors
In 1979, Stephanie Weber’s mother, Ellen, took her own life. Stephanie, 31 years old and a mother of four then, according to the Chicago Tribune, was encouraged at the time to find meaningful distraction—enroll in an art-history class or join the Red Cross. But Weber’s grief drove her instead to help others. Three years later, she and seven others founded Survivors of Suicide, a group dedicated to consoling families effected by suicide, and in 1998 founded Suicide Prevention Services of America (SPS).
Now a lauded grief counselor and member of the American Association of Suicidology's board of directors, Stephanie steers SPS's services toward the PIP trifecta: prevention, intervention, and postvention. Speaking in her Chicago Tribune interview, Weber said that engagement is critical in preventing suicide, because “anyone who's suicidal has a sense of relief that someone would take them seriously and let them talk about their pain.” To this end, SPS offers a range of counseling services including over-the-phone support with paraprofessionals, in-person depression screening and counseling, and support groups for people who have attempted suicide and who have lost loved ones. SPS also places professionals in several local high schools, and its Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshops teach people the signs for potential suicide and instruct them in how to help.
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