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Suicide can be stopped

Melissa Costello spoke through tears about the devastating loss of her daughter Jordan last September. 1 / 2
Around 80 people turned out last week to learn about the impact of suicide on families and the community at large. The Suicide Prevention Forum was sponsored by Hudson Community Foundation with assistance by the Suicide Prevention Task Force of St. Croix County. (Hudson Star-Observer photos by Kevin Heaton)2 / 2

Melissa Costello spoke through tears about the devastating loss of her daughter Jordan last September.
The 2012 Hudson High School graduate took her own life. She left behind her grieving parents and brothers, her grandmother and other family members, friends and teammates from the HHS girls soccer team.
Costello told her family’s story at last week’s Suicide Prevention Forum sponsored by the Hudson Community Foundation. She has chosen to honor Jordan’s memory by speaking publicly about it in hopes of ending the shame and stigma associated with suicide which is a result of mental illness.

Costello told the audience of 80 that theirs is a family full of love and that she had a close relationship with her daughter. Jordan had ended a long high school relationship just months before her death and had been feeling depressed and sad. She shared her feelings just shortly before her death in a text message to her mother. Costello read that message and her response to her daughter.

“I knew she was feeling depressed but I had no idea how bad it was....If I had only asked her if she was thinking of hurting herself, she might be alive today.”

Costello said that she and her husband had always tried to protect Jordan and their sons from life’s ups and downs and think maybe now that was a mistake. “Maybe if we had been more open with her about our own tough experiences in life, she would have been better able to cope with her own.”

She went on to read a note Jordan left for her that night. She read what can only be described as a love letter to her mother, asking her to forgive her. “I don’t want to hurt you but I don’t want to hurt anymore,” wrote Jordan.

Costello closed her remarks by saying “I can’t undo the past but I hope by speaking I can make a difference for someone else, prompt them to seek help for this national health problem and to get parents and kids educated about the symptoms of depression and suicide.”

Members of the Suicide Prevention Task Force of St. Croix County, a grassroots effort that came together to address the increasing number of suicides in the area, especially among young people. The group includes professionals from social services, law enforcement, healthcare and educators.

They have been active around the county promoting “QPR - Question, Persuade, Refer,” a nationally recognized program that trains everyone from adolescents to adults in how to reach out to anyone who shows signs of depression and may be considering suicide.

The training was conducted at the forum and provides language and specific information for approaching someone about suicide. The training recommends a direct approach and provides cues and preparation tips.

Each person at the forum received a QPR training booklet and information about services available in the area.

Presenter Kesha Marson said the program has had a significant impact on the number of suicides in communities where the training is widespread.

Veteran Willy Graves of the New Richmond VFW talked about the growing problem of suicide among active duty military and among veterans, particularly from the Vietnam era. As these veterans retire from jobs and with their families grown, Graves said symptoms of PTSD and flashbacks of their war experiences come back and can sometimes lead to severe depression and suicide.

To help address these issues, area veterans are participating in the Battle Buddy Network that connects veterans in need of assistance with people who can help. They have also established BOBS -- the Band of Brothers and Sisters who meet regularly to talk “vet to vet,” peer counseling between vets dealing with PTSD, adjustment to home life and financial issues. They also have a welcome home program that will stage an official welcome home for any returning service person regardless of if they served recently or decades ago.

This was the second of two forums sponsored by the Hudson Community Foundation to address serious issues facing the community and to promote civil discourse in an effort to address these issues and seek solutions to them. Founded in 1999, the Hudson Community Foundation is a philanthropic organization focused on providing funding in the areas of education, human services, civic projects, youth and the environment through its community needs fund. An affiliate of the St. Croix Valley Foundation, HCF also assists individual, family and corporate donors through the establishment of field-of-interest, donor-advised and future funds that benefit the greater Hudson community.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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