Thank You, Mental Health Heroes!

Leaders of the mental health community spread messages of support and hope during the 7th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest.

Darrell Harrington, of Be Kind Ithaca, shared a personal story of getting help for crippling anxiety, and how it led him to create the bright red “Be Kind” hearts that adorn lawns and porches throughout Ithaca and beyond.

“I wouldn’t be here right now, or got to be on this amazing journey with Be Kind, if I hadn’t gained control of my anxiety,” said Harrington, crediting his wife and a close friend and band mate for guiding him into therapy.

 “If you are suffering, please talk to someone. I know it’s hard. It’s extremely hard. But there is help out there. There’s some amazing people that want to help you. It’s those nine out of ten people that will help you, and take care of you, and make you feel better, and enjoy your life like I am today.”

Kathy Taylor, of the Finger Lakes affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), related how a child’s mental illness turned her family’s world “upside down and inside out.”

National Alliance on Mental Illness Finger Lakes

“We thought we could fix his problem through love and support,” she said. “But it wasn’t enough. I had heard about NAMI. It really took a lot of courage to make that phone call and admit we couldn’t fix the problem ourselves.”

Taylor and her husband joined a 12-week NAMI class called Family to Family. “These people were non-judgmental and they helped us so much,” she recalled. “We learned a common language so we could talk to each other about mental illness in a more educated way and understand what our son was going through.

Crystal Howser, of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Greater Central New York, said everyone has a role to play in protecting mental health.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

“Together, we can make a difference,” said Howser, one of the Ithaca area’s most relentless suicide prevention advocates. “We can let others know they are not alone. Together, we are strong, together we are making a difference. Suicide is preventable and suicide prevention begins with all of us.”

Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service

Mental Health Association in Tompkins County

Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca

Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

Be Kind Ithaca

The Sophie Fund

Support NAMI–Finger Lakes!

Welcome to The Sophie Fund’s 2022 Cupcake Button fundraiser! Each October, we work alongside student organizations to raise monies for a local nonprofit focused on community wellbeing.

This year’s campaign is collecting funds for the Finger Lakes affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

NAMI-Finger Lakes provides free support, education, and advocacy for people closest to those living with mental health conditions. An organization slogan is, “With NAMI Finger Lakes, you are not alone.”

100 percent of the donations to the 2022 Cupcake Button campaign will go to NAMI-Finger Lakes.

Among its activities, NAMI Finger Lakes runs a HELP Line at 607-273-2462. Experienced volunteers answer calls for support and mental health resources with empathy and understanding.

NAMI Finger Lakes offers a variety of programs to support and educate community members concerning mental health.

The Family-to-Family Education program is designed to help improve the coping and problem-solving skills of family members, significant others, and friends of people with mental health conditions.

Other programs include peer-led family support groups and education sessions for those providing care for youth with mental health symptoms. NAMI Finger Lakes also engages in outreach such as talks to local groups and connecting with employers about workforce mental health.

In addition, NAMI Finger Lakes advocates for public policies for improving mental health at the local and state levels.

Click here for more information about NAMI-Finger Lakes.

This year’s Cupcake Button campaign is supported by many student organizations, including Cornell University’s Cornell Minds Matter, Alpha Phi Omega–Gamma Chapter, Reflect at Cornell, Phi Sigma Pi, Pre-Professional Association Toward Careers in Health (PATCH), Cornell Circle K, and Cornel Health International.

Students raise money through various in-person activities (and provide donors with Cupcake Buttons) on campus and in the community. The campaigns have raised more than $5,000 for organizations including the Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service, the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County, the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, the Village at Ithaca, and The Learning Web.

The symbol of the campaign is a Cupcake Button, because the fundraising takes place in the runup to the Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest hosted by The Sophie Fund. To enter this year’s cupcake contest, go to: https://thesophiefund.org/cupcake-contest/.

To donate directly to NAMI Finger Lakes, click here.

For more information about The Sophie Fund, go to:www.thesophiefund.org.

In Emotional Distress or a Suicidal Crisis? Dial 9-8-8

National Suicide Prevention Month may be ending on September 30, but the need to support people experiencing a mental health crisis is more urgent than ever.

After a dip in 2019 and 2020, the suicide rate in the United States increased nearly 4 percent in 2021—47,646 deaths, up from 45,979 in 2020, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The rate for people age 15-24 rose 7 percent. Overall suicide rates have risen more than 30 percent in the past two decades.

Some good news: Seeking help became easier in 2020, with the introduction of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. 988 has been designated as a new three-digit dialing code, similar to the simple-to-remember public safety hotline number 911.

The Lifeline provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week, across the United States. You can also connect to the Lifeline if you are concerned about a loved one, friend, or colleague.

988 calls go to into a nearby crisis center, one of 200 across the country. When people call or text 988, or connect to chat online, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the Lifeline network. Trained counselors listen, understand how the caller’s problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.

NOTE: The previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will always remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis.

Ithaca’s 53-year-old Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service has long been part of the Lifeline network. Its trained counselors can also be reached by dialing 607-272-1616.

The Lifeline has been proven to be effective. According to its administrator, numerous studies have shown that callers feel less suicidal, less depressed, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking with a Lifeline counselor. Calls to the Lifeline have soared 45 percent since 988 was introduced in July.

The Lifeline is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and administered by Vibrant Emotional Health.

Warning Signs for Suicide

Take a moment to review the warning signs for suicide, as provided by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Be sure to get help for yourself or others if you see the signs. You may save a life.

According to AFSP, something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.

Warning sign: Talk

If a person talks about:

Killing themselves

Feeling hopeless

Having no reason to live

Being a burden to others

Feeling trapped

Unbearable pain

Warning sign: Behavior

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:

Increased use of alcohol or drugs

Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods

Withdrawing from activities

Isolating from family and friends

Sleeping too much or too little

Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

Giving away prized possessions

Aggression

Fatigue

Warning sign: Mood

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

Depression

Anxiety

Loss of interest

Irritability

Humiliation/Shame

Agitation/Anger

Relief/Sudden Improvement

For more local, state, and national resources, visit The Sophie Fund’s suicide prevention page.

Be Safe at College!

A dark and often hidden side of student life is the prevalence of sexual assault. Know the resources for keeping yourself and others safe, supporting victims, and holding perpetrators accountable.

DOWNLOAD: Be Safe at College Resources

According to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), college women aged 18-24 are at three times greater risk of sexual violence. Among undergraduate students, 26.4 percent of females and 6.8 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, RAINN statistics show.

Check out RAINN’s Staying Safe on Campus webpage for important advice that may make a world of difference in your college experience.

Here is contact information concerning sexual assault for students studying in Tompkins County:

SUPPORT

Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

Free, confidential, local support and advocacy for survivors, friends, and families around domestic or dating violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse.

Hotline (607) 277-5000

Office (607) 277-3203

Instagram: @advocacytc

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network(RAINN)

RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline and provides programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Hotline 24/7 (800) 656-HOPE

Online (English)

Online (en español)

Instagram: @rainnn

GET INVOLVED

Sexual Violence Prevention Network (Cornell University)

Student organization helps victims and survivors and promotes equity in relationships through events, campaigns, and partnerships.

svpnetwork.cornell@gmail.com

Instagram: @svpn_cu

IC Strike (Ithaca College)

Student organization dedicated to education, activism, tangible change,and allyship for survivors of sexual assault and violence.

icstrike@ithaca.edu

Instagram: @icstrike

EMERGENCY

911 Ithaca Police Assistance

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Cornell University

Cornell Police (607) 255-1111

Cornell Health & CAPS (607) 255-5155

Victim Advocacy (607) 255-1212

Title IX Office (607) 255-2242

Student Conduct (607) 255-4680

Ithaca College

Campus Police (607) 274-3353

CAPS (607) 274-3136

Title IX Office (607) 274-7761

Student Conduct (607) 274-3375

Tompkins Cortland Community College

Campus Police (607) 844-6511

Counseling (607) 844-6577

Title IX Office (607) 844-4440

Student Conduct (607) 844-8222 x6591

Are You Safe on Campus?

It’s the start of a new academic year, and colleges are brimming with exciting academic challenges and social opportunities. A dark and often hidden side of student life, however, is the prevalence of sexual assault.

DOWNLOAD: Be Safe at College Resources

According to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, and college women aged 18-24 are at three times greater risk of sexual violence.

Among undergraduate students, 26.4 percent of females and 6.8 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, RAINN statistics show.

“College campuses can give you a sense of security, a feeling that everyone knows each other and watches out for one another,” RAINN says. “There are perpetrators who take advantage of this feeling of safety and security to commit acts of sexual violence.”

Check out RAINN’s Staying Safe on Campus webpage for important advice that may make a world of difference in your college experience.

“As bystanders, students can learn ways of stepping in to prevent crimes like sexual assault from occurring. When it comes to personal safety, there are steps you can take as well. No tips can absolutely guarantee safety—sexual violence can happen to anyone, and it’s not the only crime that can occur on a college campus. It’s important to remember that if you are sexually assaulted on campus it is not your fault—help and support are available.”

RAINN’s college webpage includes sections on increasing on-campus safety; protecting yourself in social settings; feeling safe after an assault; and additional resources for specifically for students.

Here is contact information concerning sexual assault for students studying in Tompkins County:

Advocacy Center of Tompkins County

Local support for survivors, friends, and families of domestic violence and sexual assault

Office (607) 277-3203

Hotline (607) 277-5000

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline and provides programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

Hotline (800) 656-HOPE

Online (English) (en español)

Cornell University

Cornell Police (607) 255-1111

Cornell Health & CAPS (607) 255-5155

Victim Advocacy (607) 255-1212

Title IX Office (607) 255-2242

Student Conduct (607) 255-4680

Ithaca College

Campus Police (607) 274-3353

CAPS (607) 274-3136

Title IX Office (607) 274-7761

Student Conduct (607) 274-3375

Tompkins Cortland Community College

Campus Police (607) 844-6511

Counseling (607) 844-6577

Title IX Office (607) 844-4440

Student Conduct (607) 844-8222 x6591