’13 Reasons Why’ you should be talking to your teen

On March 31st, Netflix released season 1 of “13 Reasons Why” and has recently announced season 2 is in the works.  The show, based on a book of the same title by Jay Asher, follows a series of teenagers confronted with the fallout of one of their schoolmate’s suicide. The series covers a range of topics including substance use, in-person and cyber bullying, mental health, sexual assault, driving while intoxicated, and ultimately, suicide. Many adults and school administrators may feel overwhelmed or at a loss with how to start a conversation with a young person about the show and its complex content.

Talking about suicide, does not cause suicide.

One of the biggest fears we hear from adults is that talking with youth about suicide and suicide prevention will “give someone the idea” to complete a suicide.  Research has shown time and time again, that talking about suicide does not “introduce” the idea to young people.  In fact, starting a conversation about suicide and other complex social topics raised in ’13 Reasons Why’ can actually bring relief to those who are wrestling with thoughts of suicide and bring the conversation and possible ways to address the underlying issues into the open.

While we believe that talking openly about the complex issue of suicide and suicide prevention, we must caution that the show is not intended for all audiences.  As indicated by its TV-MA rating, the content is intended for mature audiences.  We do encourage parents and caregivers to watch with their teens, and avoid binge watching to allow time for processing the heavy content.  Those who are vulnerable, or may be triggered by the content should practice good self-care and avoid watching altogether.

May is also Mental Health Month– another great reason to start a conversation and break down the stigma and shame that can prevent some individuals from getting help.  To learn more about how to start a conversation with a young person check out the links below.

To learn more about the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, click here.


In the later part of 2016, the Contra Costa Crisis Center adopted smart building technology, enabling a more responsive and efficient energy usage in our 24/7 facility.  Below is a photo of our recent rebate check from the City of Walnut Creek – which has now taken our energy cost savings over $3,600 in our first eight months! Not only are we feeling great about our use of energy resources but we are thrilled about how this cost saving strategy stretches our donor dollars!


Thank you to PG&E and to the City of Walnut Creek for your support of this very green project!

Elbert Guico from DNV-GL for the City of Walnut Creek presents Crisis Center Executive Director, Rhonda James, with a rebate check for improvements in energy efficiency.

Elbert Guico from DNV-GL for the City of Walnut Creek presents Crisis Center Executive Director, Rhonda James, with a rebate check for improvements in energy efficiency.


Horace Del Rio, 16, of De La Salle high school, serves bowls of fresh fruit at the Monument Crisis Center in Concord, Calif. where a Share the Spirit grant helped host a meal and food distribution for seniors on Friday afternoon Dec. 4, 2009.  The Volunteer Center of the East Bay, which administered the Share the Spirit campaign, has announced it will be shutting down.   (Karl Mondon/Staff Archives)

Horace Del Rio, 16, of De La Salle high school, serves bowls of fresh fruit at the Monument Crisis Center in Concord, Calif. where a Share the Spirit grant helped host a meal and food distribution for seniors on Friday afternoon Dec. 4, 2009. The Volunteer Center of the East Bay, which administered the Share the Spirit campaign, has announced it will be shutting down. (Karl Mondon/Staff Archives)

The Share the Spirit evaluation committee, a partnership of Bay Area News Group – East Bay Times and the Contra Costa Crisis Center, is pleased to announce the following organizations have been awarded grants for Share the Spirit 2016:


Acts of Grace/Grace Baptist Church

Alternative Family Services

American Indian Education Program

Ariel Outreach Mission

AXIS Dance Company

Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Services (BORP)

Bay Area Rescue Mission

Berkeley Food and Housing Project

Berkeley Food Pantry

Beyond Emancipation

Child Abuse Prevention Council of Contra Costa

Child Care Links

Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area

Downs Memorial United Methodist Church

Episcopal Senior Communities

FACES (Family, Art, Community, Education, Spirituality)

Family Emergency Shelter Coalition (FESCO)

Hayward Police Department

Hope 4 the Heart

Las Trampas School, Inc.

League of Volunteers

LITA   of Contra Costa; Port Costa

Loaves and Fishes

Love Center Community Development Corp.

Meals on Wheels Senior Outreach Services

Men and Women of Purpose

Oakland Catholic Worker

Opportunity Junction

Saint Vincent’s Day Home

Salvation Army Antioch

Service Opportunity for Seniors/Meals on Wheels San Leandro

SHELTER, Inc. of Contra Costa County

St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County

Swords to Plowshares

Tri Valley Haven

Trinity Center

Vestia, Inc.

Volunteer Hayward

Warm Winters

West Contra Costa Youth Services Bureau


This was a competitive grant cycle and we say thank you to all the 2016 Share the Spirit applicants for their great work in the community.

Does talking about thoughts of suicide increase the risk that someone will act on those thoughts?

We know that most people who die by suicide SAY they are having thoughts of suicide before they attempt suicide.  And, as the 10th leading cause of adult death and the 2nd leading cause of youth death in the U.S. we have to talk about suicide. 

None of the 13 studies reviewed in a recent article published in Psychological Medicine found that talking about suicide increased suicide ideation.  In fact many of these 13 studies found that asking the questions improved mental health in individuals who sought treatment.

Start a conversation and help stop suicide.

The Movember Foundation shared a video about the power of talking about suicide as part of their efforts to raise awareness during World Suicide Prevention Day.


Columnist Faith Barnidge highlights the upcoming Corporate Caring Volunteer Week in her Good Neighbors column this week (excerpt below).

For the full article, click here.


Elaine Clark, chief executive officer of Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services, front row from left, awarded the Ray Zenoni Volunteer of the Year Award to the Wells Fargo volunteer teams led by Wells Fargo Bank vice president Darlene Campbell and Jennifer Lopez, with, second row, from left, Carole Schultze, Kathy Sutton, Mona Aviles, Debbie Goodenough, Gayle McKinley, George Kanto, Nancy Carrell, Mary Gerach-Levenesque and Maria Andrews, and top row, from left, Rita Nyulassy, Kent Tambazidis, Linda Fuller, Dave Brown, Shirley Pettit and Paula Lloyd.


By Faith Barnidge, Columnist

The Contra Costa Crisis Center provides support and safety net resources for individuals and families in stress in Contra Costa with a 24-hour crisis line, crisis-response training, face-to-face grief counseling, homeless services, and a 211 information and referral program to keep people alive and safe.

Crisis resources are available for residents for issues concerning suicide, alcohol abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse, elder abuse and mental illness.

The Crisis Center has expanded its mission to assume management of the Corporate Caring Volunteer Week from Sept. 19-24, an annual week of service where committed, corporate volunteers from Bay Area businesses are matched with local nonprofits.

Management of the event was previously supported by the Volunteer Center of the East Bay, a nonprofit organization that sadly ceased operation at the end of May.

Corporate volunteer teams may select and register for projects that have been submitted by nonprofit organizations through Aug. 23, and expect confirmation by Sept. 1.

Projects vary in size and scope and could require a few to dozens of volunteers, so businesses of all sizes are welcome to participate.

For volunteer program inquiries, contact Dee Dee Robillard at CorporateCaringVolunteerWeek@crisis-center.org or 925-939-1916.

For more information about the Contra Costa Crisis Center, visit cccrisiscenter.staging.wpengine.com.


Summer Food For Kids is a Summer Food Service Program provided by the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano.

Meals are offered to children and teens age 18 and younger free of charge while school is out.  Kids and teens are invited to eat for FREE at their local school district site.  For a full list of participating sites, call 2-1-1  or click here.


You can also download the postcard Summer Meal postcard. May 2016

Learn the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and others — and find resources that lead to a happier and healthier college career.



Walnut Creek, Calif. — Films written and produced by students at Heritage High School, Deer Valley High School, and Making Waves Academy were recognized in the third annual Directing Change Student Film Program, a statewide prevention effort sponsored by Each Mind Matters: California’s Mental Health Movement and the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) that empowers young people to promote suicide prevention and end the silence about mental illness among their peers.

This year 420 submissions, representing 1226 students from 112 high schools and 7 University of California (UC) campus locations were received. Participating students competed regionally by submitting 60-second films in two categories: suicide prevention and ending the silence of mental illness.

Confronting stigma matters when it comes to young people. Approximately 1 in 5 youth ages 13 to 18 experiences a mental health challenge in a given year. When young people feel alone in dealing with mental health challenges, they may be afraid to talk about it, and not get the help they need. Delay in accessing needed mental health services is a missed opportunity for youth to improve their lives and reach their potential.

By directing change the young filmmakers aim to encourage their peers to stand up for others experiencing a mental health challenge and connect their friends to help.
Chris Lorenz, Educator, Directing Change Advisory Group, expressed: “I love the idea of bringing these topics up to students in a “non-textbook” way. Anyone can read about the signs of suicide or mental illness but to actually take these issues and form a statement about them, be respectful, and think deeply about impacting the opinion of others requires a level of involvement that has lasting impact.”

All submissions were judged by volunteer experts in mental health and suicide prevention, members of the media and professionals in filmmaking and video production. The films were judged based on how the entries creatively explored the topics while also adhering to guidelines about how to safely and appropriately communicate about suicide prevention and mental illness.
Effective stigma reduction, mental health promotion, and suicide prevention requires early and repeated intervention throughout the stages of childhood and the transition to adulthood. According to the 2014 RAND survey of elementary through high school principals in California, more than three-quarters cited students’ “social, emotional, and mental health” as a moderate or severe problem at their schools. All participating schools were provided with educational resources and offered a suicide prevention or mental health program for their school through donations from various non-profit organizations.

To view the full list of the regional winners and their winning films visit: http://www.directingchange.org/contest-winners-finalists/

About Directing Change
The Directing Change program encourages students across California are invited to Direct Change by creating 60-second films in two categories: Suicide Prevention or Ending the Silence of Mental Illness. Through exposure to the submission guidelines and judging forms, youth participants, school staff and judges are exposed to “safe messaging” guidelines for mental health and suicide prevention, warning signs, how to appropriately respond to someone in distress, as well as how to stand up for others who are experiencing a mental health challenge. In addition, participation in Directing Change opens the door to introduce prevention programs to the school. Every school that engages with the contest receives an Ending the Silence presentation from NAMI and one of several donated suicide prevention programs. For more information visit: www.directingchange.org

About the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA)

About the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) CalMHSA is an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Prevention and Early Intervention programs implemented by CalMHSA are funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63). Prop. 63 provides the funding and framework needed to expand mental health services to previously underserved populations and all of California’s diverse communities.

2015 Winning Film

As you may or may not be aware, suicide prevention was mentioned more than once last night during the Oscars.

Screenwriter Graham Moore used his win to bring attention to suicide awareness and depression during his acceptance speech. Suicide prevention was brought up again when Producer Dana Perry was accepting her Oscar for the best documentary short subject, “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1.” Actor Graham Moore revealed he is a suicide attempt survivor, and Dana Perry dedicated her award to her son who died by suicide at the age of 15.

You can read more about both speeches here: