Suicide is a tragedy that affects us all. One in four individuals have thoughts of suicide during their lifetime, which is probably an underreported number. Most people who take their own lives do not want to die, they just want to be out of the pain they are experiencing and be relieved of a feeling of hopelessness that things will never get better. They don’t know what to do and they don’t know there is help.
Discover Lafayette interviewed Deacon Barney Lejeune in 2018 when he served as Executive Director of Jacob Crouch Suicide Prevention Services. Deacon Barney now serves as a volunteer at Jacob Crouch Suicide Prevention. Management services have been assumed by The Family Tree Information, Education and Counseling Center. Brittany Williams of The Family Tree is the Suicide Prevention Coordinator of Jacob Crouch Suicide Prevention and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (337) 981-2180.
The Jacob Crouch foundation was originally started in 2005 by the family and friends of Jacob Crouch following his death by suicide. At that time, there were very limited resources available to those grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide. The stigma associated with suicide meant that education on warning signs and intervention was not very prevalent.
Before Deacon Barney joined the Jacob Crouch Foundation, he spent his career managing computer departments for local businesses. He became involved with the Jacob Crouch organization after the death of his beautiful daughter, Andrea Beth, to suicide in 2014. Until his daughter’s death, he had no idea how much of a crisis suicide was in America.
2016 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document that almost 45,000 people took their lives by suicide that year; by comparison, 19,700 died by homicide. Deacon Barney Lejeune’s story is an inspirational one that we all need to hear. Listen and share this podcast, please. And pray for survivors of suicide victims as well as all people who are considering suicide. There are better options and there are people ready to help.
Research shows that many suicides could be prevented if everyone knew the warning signs of suicide and what to do when someone exhibits these signs.
Signs that indicate a friend or loved one may be considering suicide include the following: Withdrawing from family, friends, or society; Talking about death, dying or suicide; getting one’s life matters affairs in order; giving away one’s prized possessions; acting recklessly or engaging in risky behavior; increased use of alcohol and/or drugs; agitation leading to poor eating, poor sleeping and forgoing self-care; feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge; and dramatic mood changes. There are many more signals to identify and Jacob Crouch Suicide Prevention Services is available to speak to you, a group to which you belong, or to share resources with you if you need help.
Survivors have a tough time dealing with their guilt: “Why didn’t I see the signs?” The grief experienced can be debilitating. In recognizing there was a dearth of resources in our community to help survivors move forward as they struggle to make their lives whole again, Deacon Barney worked closely with the Diocese of Lafayette to begin Survivor of Suicide Support Groups in Lafayette and Opelousas to assist anyone who has been impacted by the death of a loved one to suicide.
Deacon Barney was instrumental in founding a special Mass of Remembrance held to remember those who lost their lives to suicide. The Mass is held annually at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Lafayette on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This year’s Mass is on Saturday, November 23, 10:00 a.m and interested participants may register at https://diolaf.org/suicide-survivors.
There is a national suicide prevention hotline to call: 1(800)273-8255, available 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Or you can text 741741 if you are not up to speaking but need to reach out. You don’t need to speak. Emojis are fine. You’ll communicate with trained professionals. Please take advantage of this resource if you have any feeling that you want to end your life. Your life is precious and help is available.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Frisco, CA has been the site of more than 1700 people who have jumped off in an attempt to end their lives since its construction in 1937. Only 25 of the 1700 people have survived and everyone who survived has been interviewed after the event. All report regretting this suicide attempt and shared that their first thought was, “What have I done?” For a dramatic account of the findings and the work of one survivor, Kevin Hines, please visit http://suicidetherippleeffect.com, a global mission to help reduce the number of suicides and suicide attempts around the world.
Mass shooters typically take their own lives by suicide after the deed is done. In a question posed by Jason Sikora, Discover Lafayette’s sound engineer, Deacon Barney shared the research on the psychology behind the mind of a mass shooter and outcomes typically associated with this horrible event. Dr. Thomas Joiner at Florida State University has written books on mass shooters and the phenomenon of suicide. His research has found that mass shooters typically had suicide in mind first before they took the next step in expressing their anger through the mass shooting of helpless individuals. In fact, an event in Lafayette LA is mentioned in Dr. Joiner’s research which may be accessed for further reading here.
For more information on Jacob Crouch Suicide Prevention Services, please visit https://www.acadianafamilytree.org/programsservices/suicide-prevention-services/suicide or phone (337) 981-2180. This may be the most important thing you ever do in your life, to save the life of a loved one or your own.
This post was updated on June 19, 2019 to reflect current information about Jacob Crouch Suicide Prevention Services.