How would you describe your outreach work & what do you hope to accomplish?
My work involves suicide prevention, education and awareness reducing the stigma around mental illness hoping to transform it into a positive mental wellness outlook. We focus on a “youbeyou” campaign that was developed to promote positive and encouraging images, feelings and outlook.
Why is this work important?
Teen suicide has increased at an alarming rate. My family was directly impacted by suicide and we hope to help other teens reach out and not feel ashamed by society's ideas of what is acceptable and what is not.
Can you talk about the evolution of Speak Up?
Currently we are deploying our teen campaign into local school in Kansas and Missouri. We offer free suicide prevention, education, and awareness to schools and other businesses in need such as churches or youth groups.
What do you hope people gain from experiencing your outreach?
I want people to gain an understanding for those who struggle with mental illness and offer support and care rather than judgment or rejection. I hope that people will realize that having a brain illness is the same as having another illness within your body. I hope that people struggling will find their voice and reach out in times where despair/hopelessness wants to take over. I hope that we change the way others handle those who struggle with a mental illness and encourage those to get help without judgment.
Is collaboration something you incorporate into your practice? Why or why not?
Yes we work with many other organizations to ensure that we are promoting the best options to assist those people in need. We strongly encourage collaboration and work to invite the local partners to our walk each year.
How do you enlist your community in shaping the goals and methods of your outreach?
We request involvement from our community through email and facebook. We have monthly meetings to ensure our goals are being met or updated to reflect the direction of the foundation.
What inspired you to embark on this path?
Losing both my father in 1989 and then my daughter in 2015 both to suicide has inspired me to change the world they left behind. When I looked at my daughter, she did not fit into any mold that would have prompted me to think she was at risk. It was from the fiery ashes of hell that I found myself crawling out to change the stigma around mental health. When Sara passed away, no one wanted to talk about it. They wanted to shame our family, when the community should have been lifting us up. I was forced to fight each conversation with facts about suicide and mental health. Showing them that my daughter wasn’t just some waste of human life. She mattered like every other human being. It was those conversations that fueled my exhausted and mentally destroyed world to keep going.
Who is your favorite feminist mover, maker and/or shaker?
There was this girl at Sara’s school who reached out after her death. She wanted to change the world and one way she was doing that by educating people about feminism. She even participated in a club. She refused to allow the school to ignore that Sara had passed away. She fought for the justice and rights that people in the school deserved.
How do you make Speak Up more inclusive?
We include everyone. Mental wellness is everyone’s concern and should be a top priority for all.
What is day-to-day life like in your workspace?
Trying to change the world perceptions around mental health one step, one email, one program, one walk, one moment, one person, one family…at a time. I try to take every opportunity to change the perception around mental health and suicide. I refuse to allow someone to tell me that suicide was selfish when Sara was the least selfish person. She was kind and caring and she was loved beyond measure.
What are 5 ways our readers can support the work you’re doing?
- Go to our facebook page and like our page.
- Post #celebratesara and #speakup on instagram with how they are speaking up for mental health
- Share our website with someone who might need it
- Speak Up and seek help if they are thinking about suicide
- Know the signs around suicide and have the prevention text line in their phones if they should ever need it for a friend or themselves. Text 741741
- Parents hope school training helps other families avoid pain of suicide - Kansas Health Institute
- Parents call for suicide prevention training in Kansas schools - Kansas City Star
- Kansas measure seeks suicide-awareness training for teachers - KMBC News
Allie Doss - Mother, blogger, wife, and co-founder of Speak Up. Walking through the fiery ashes of hell after the death of my daughter to suicide fighting to remove the stigma around mental health. I have a dream where we our children not judged by the struggles in their heads but lifted up and supported when the weight becomes too much to endure.