Several years after her older son Tyler had died by suicide, Debb Pitel got a message from her younger son Tanner after he took a LivingWorks safeTALK workshop. It said, “Mom, you should take this.”
So she did. The year her son died from suicide at 15, three other students at the same school also died by suicide. She and another one of the survivor moms took safeTALK and, “when we were both done, we looked at each other and we knew it would’ve helped,” says Pitel.
Now Pitel wants to help others. Part of the sales of her new book, I’m Still Your Mom, will go toward suicide awareness training, either safeTALK or what is available in the region. “From Amazon and Kindle I will get a report every month that will show me exactly where the books were purchased and I can reach out to help provide safeTALK in that area—say there were 100 books sold in Alberta, then that’s where the money should go,” says Pitel.
The course taught her the signs someone is thinking of suicide and she says it would’ve given her the confidence and the words to have the conversation with her son. “It was a phenomenal program. And at that point it changed how I looked at things. I felt that I could put my pain behind me and it was something that I knew would help someone else and I just jumped in with both hands and a foot and I started fundraising hard for safeTALK. My goal was that 100 to 200 people every year could go for free and successfully met and exceeded that goal for the last five years,” notes Pitel. To date, more than 2,500 people were able to attend a workshop for free from monies raised.
She would love to see anyone who works with people being able to take it. “It’s such an incredible program, I wish it was mandatory.” For more information on her book, read here, and to learn more about safeTALK check out the LivingWorks website.