Diablo Magazine will recognize one of our amazing volunteers, Jane Emanuel at their Threads of Hope on Thursday, December 4, 2014.
On October 23, Bernard Mayes, multi-talented journalist, Episcopal priest, and community activist, passed away in San Francisco. He was the founding force behind the Suicide Prevention movement in America, launching in San Francisco the first of what would eventually become a network of over 500 community crisis centers. He went on to become a pioneer in public broadcasting as a founder of KQED and as chair of the founding board of National Public Radio (NPR). At his side at the end were his friends and former housemates, Will Scott and Matthew Chayt, reading Shakespeare’s Sonnet CXVI, Let me not to the marriage of true minds…
Mayes arrived in San Francisco in 1960 at the age of 31 as a correspondent for the BBC. Handsome, energetic, cultivated, and rebellious, he took on a massive and highly preventable tragedy that no one else would discuss — suicide. In a city that was known for the highest suicide rate in the western world, he founded a simple volunteer hotline using the code name “Bruce” and distributing matchbooks with the phone number in Tenderloin bars. He had a newsman’s flair for publicity and was able to maintain constant visibility of the fledgling organization and its efforts to reach people who found themselves wanting to end their lives. He trained its first volunteers and went with them to secure the first office in the basement of a Tenderloin apartment building whose manager initially believed them to be an escort service.
By 1970, he was elected to chair the founding board of NPR, helping to organize public radio and television not only in San Francisco but also for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, then in its infancy. In 1984 he was invited by the University of Virginia to chair their Department of Rhetoric and Communication for which he organized the Program in Media Studies. Later, he was appointed an academic dean and received several awards for mentoring and advising.
He wrote many published articles and a selection of his lighter broadcast pieces,”This is Bernard Mayes in San Francisco,” even appeared in Australia. After his retirement in 1999, he published his autobiography, Escaping God’s Closet: The Revelations of a Queer Priest, which in 2000 won the national Lambda Literary Award for religion and spirituality. He has scripted and recorded dramatic works for radio, including Homer’s Odyssey and the award winning audio The Lord of the Rings, in which he played Gandalf.
Bernard never lost his concern for people considering suicide. For the final years of his life, he returned to San Francisco to live, consistently visiting to the agency he began fifty years earlier. He was a dedicated donor, leader, and historical legacy. Bernard celebrated his 85th birthday on October 10th at San Francisco Suicide Prevention’s “Heroes of Mental Health” Luncheon. He is survived by his many close friends, his former colleagues, and the unknown thousands of people who are alive today because of his work.
We are all better people having had Bernard Mayes in our lives. May he rest in peace.
To learn more about Bernard’s legacy, please enjoy the following articles:
Bernard Mayes to be Honored as Lifeline to Suicidal.
America’s First Suicide Prevention hotline celebrates 50 years.
This special edition of Beyond the Headlines commemorates the life of actor, comedian, and humanitarian Robin Williams – and explores the power of depression in his and all of our lives. Cheryl Jennings sits down with two of Robin’s longtime friends and fellow local comics, Brian Copeland and Bob Sarlatte. They’ll share their personal memories of Robin. And Brian will discuss his own personal continuing battle against Depression and we’ll provide a variety of local resources for you or anyone you know who’s battling this debilitating illness.
A video of people who have been impacted by grief and loss and how The Crisis Center’s programs supported them.
The Contra Costa Crisis Center was chosen by the Dan & Margaret Lesher Foundation – as a part or their NEWSMAKERS: Lesher Speaker Series – as the nonprofit partner to be featured alongside Dan Rather on November 4, 2013.
Each year the Lesher Center for the Arts hosts the NEWSMAKERS: Lesher Speaker Series. This program is a seven-part speaker series that brings prominent figures in the fields of politics, entertainment, finance, media and sports to the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek each year. This subscription series is extremely well received by the public and the Lesher Foundation utilizes the interest and “buzz” created by some of these world renowned speakers to spotlight local nonprofit agencies and the work we do. This fall, the Contra Costa Crisis Center was one of seven nonprofits featured in the 2013-14 fall/winter series and the Crisis Center’s spotlight was linked to the speaking engagement of world renowned journalist, Dan Rather.
The Crisis Center was also provided tickets to attend Dan Rather’s performance AND a small reception on-site to personally meet Mr. Rather over wine and appetizers! The Crisis Center used these exclusive tickets as an expression of our appreciation with our top donors and a few Board members.
Additionally, this opportunity included the professional production of our agency’s “commercial” (digital clip) to air as the opening for Dan Rather’s performance. Our digital clip was done by KTVU Director of Publicity and Public Relations (Channel 2), Rosy Chu and the final product was gifted to us to use in our marketing efforts – all free of charge! We were thrilled to see the Crisis Center’s clip at the beginning of his performance and to have Mr. Rather mention us as one of the County’s premiere service providers, giving us exposure to more than 800 attendees. Look for this clip on our website soon.
Collaborates with Communities to Help Veterans Access Mental Health Support
WASHINGTON (Sept. 5, 2013) — In recognition of September as Suicide Prevention Month, the Department of Veterans Affairs is mobilizing people and organizations nationwide to support Veterans in crisis and spread the word about VA mental health services.
Throughout the month, VA suicide prevention coordinators at all 151 VA medical centers will organize community events, host health fairs, lead training sessions and work with VA Voluntary Service toimprove Veterans’ lives. VA is also launching a new Suicide Prevention Month public service announcement,”Talking About It Matters” nationwide in September.
“VA’s highest priority is the mental health and well-being of the brave men and women who have served our Nation. Even one suicide is one too many,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “VA is a leader in providing high-quality mental health care that improves and saves Veterans’ lives. We know that treatment works, and there is hope for Veterans who seek mental health care.”
This year’s theme, “It Matters,” emphasizes the people, relationships and experiences that matter to Veterans and their loved ones, reinforcing their personal connections and giving their lives hope and meaning. To spark conversation about the difficult topics of suicide risk and prevention, VA will unveil a photo-sharing campaign, “Show Us What Matters,” and will invite Veterans and their loved ones to upload photos of the special people in their lives to VeteransCrisisLine.net/ItMatters.
“When a Veteran is in crisis, even one small act can make a lifesaving difference,” said Dr. Robert A. Petzel, VA’s Under Secretary for Health. “It’s up to all of us to understand the signs of crisis and look out for the Veterans in our lives. And when we are concerned, we need to reach out and tell someone.”
Throughout the summer and through September, VA is holding Mental Health Summits at all 151 VA medical centers to further engage community partners, Veteran Service Organizations, health care providers and local governments, and to address the broad mental health needs of Veterans and their families and show them they matter. VA is calling on supporters to educate their networks to recognize suicide warning signs and encourage Veterans in crisis to call the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1), chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text to 838255 – even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care. All Veterans Crisis Line resources are optimized for mobile devices.
“We urge Veterans’ loved ones—and everyone—to show support for Veterans during Suicide Prevention Month and throughout the year,” said Dr. Janet Kemp, director of VA’s Suicide Prevention Program. “Learn to recognize the risk of suicide and let Veterans know that caring, confidential support is only a call, click or text away. Families, friends and co-workers need to work together to provide a network of support for Veterans in our communities. We’re all in this together.”
Anyone can support Veterans by:
- Encouraging a Veteran who needs help to call the Veterans Crisis Line. Remind them that it takes courage to seek help.
- Connecting with a local Suicide Prevention Coordinator and taking part in a local event.
- Watching the new Suicide Prevention Month public service announcement, “Talking About It Matters”
- Downloading an electronic toolkit to share Suicide Prevention Month web badges, banners, blog posts and social media content.
- Sharing a photo atVeteransCrisisLine.net/ItMatters.
- Tweeting your friends and loved ones with the following message: “One small act can make the difference. This#SuicidePreventionMonth, help #Veteransaccess the support they’ve earned:VeteransCrisisLine.net.”
VA has implemented comprehensive, wide-ranging suicide prevention initiatives, including a toll-free Veterans Crisis Line, placement of Suicide Prevention Coordinators at all VA medical centers and large outpatient facilities, and improvements in case management and reporting. The Veterans Crisis Line, online chat and text-messaging services offer free, confidential support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to Veterans, their families and friends.
Veterans, or anyone concerned about a Veteran, can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online atVeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat or text to 838255 to receive support—even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care. All Veterans Crisis Line resources are optimized for mobile devices.
Since 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 890,000 calls and made more than 30,000 lifesaving rescues. In 2009, the Veterans Crisis Line added the anonymous chat service, which has had more than 108,000 chats.
To further expand access to quality mental health care, VA has hired over 1,600 mental health clinical providers to meet the goal outlined in an executive order. Additionally, VA has hired over 2,005 mental health clinical providers to fill existing vacancies.
VA’s mental health workforce totals nearly 20,300. In fiscal year 2012, VA provided specialized mental health care to more than 1.3 million Veterans. The department has an aggressive recruiting campaign underway among mental health specialists to ensure Veterans continue to receive the best mental health care anywhere.
The Department of Defense has no more important responsibility than supporting and protecting those who defend our country and that means we must do everything possible to prevent military suicide. As we observe Suicide Prevention Month, the entire DoD community – Service members, civilians, members of our families and leaders at every level – must demonstrate our collective resolve to prevent suicide, to promote greater knowledge of its causes and to encourage those in need to seek support. No one who serves this country in uniform should ever feel they have nowhere to turn.
The Department of Defense has invested more than $100 million into research on the diagnosis and treatment of depression, bipolar disorder and substance abuse, as well as interventions for relationship, financial and legal issues – all of which can be associated with suicide. We are working to reduce drug and alcohol abuse and we are steadily increasing the number of mental health professionals and peer support counselors. Effective suicide prevention training is critical to all these efforts and we are instructing our leaders on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of crisis and encourage service members to seek support. We are also reaching out to military families and the broader community to enlist their support in this cause.
Seeking behavioral health care is a choice that embodies moral courage, honor and integrity. Those values are at the foundation of what that we stand for and what we defend. The Military Crisis Line is there for all who need it. I encourage anyone in need to call 1-800-273-8255 and press one to speak to a trained professional, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This service is confidential and available to all service members and their families.
Always remember that our most valuable resource is each other. When one of us faces a challenge, we all must stand together. By fighting as one team, we can – and we will – help prevent suicide. Thank you.
[separator top=”40″ style=”single”]
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
On the Web: http://www.defense.gov/releases/
Media Contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public Contact: http://www.defense.gov/landing/questions.aspx or +1 (703) 428-0711 +1