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Gary native Venessa Abram returns with message to address struggles of mental illness

With the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, two popular and internationally renowned celebrities in the fashion and food industries, experts are predicting an increase in suicide by regular people who may be on the edge. Reaching people who may be on the edge, is the critical reason behind a current tour addressing mental illness and suicide prevention, by acclaimed author and suicide survivor, Venessa Abram.

Venessa Abrams
Venessa Abram

Abram, who was born and raised in Gary, Indiana, is now an Atlanta-based author, certified speaker and instructor for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), The RESPECT Institute and a Junior Board Member for American Foundation on Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Also, she is all too familiar with the trauma, pain and stigma surrounding mental illness, depression and suicide. Her older brother, a decorated military veteran committed suicide nearly two years ago and she herself had attempted to end her life in years past.  Now as a survivor, Abram has made it her mission to help families heal and educate others about the realities of mental illness, depression and suicide prevention, through an upcoming national speaking tour.

The Self Discovery: Pain, Positioning and Purpose Tour will be an educational, empowering and inspirational forum for individuals and families struggling with the causes and effects of mental illness, depression and suicide.

“What we see with what has happened with Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, is that people who have been personally impacted by mental illness need to know they are not alone, and that there is hope,” said Abram. “My older brother, who was a veteran, took his life 16 months ago and since then I have been on a journey of healing and reaching out to see how I can bring more awareness to ravages of suicide,” she shared.  “In fact, I too attempted suicide in 2008 and realized that God spared my life for a reason. Now I must do what I can to help remove the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide, and help families heal who have experienced it,” Abram said.

According to the AFSP, an organization that raises awareness, funds scientific research and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide, each year more than 44,000 people die from suicide, which costs the U.S. almost $70 billion annually. In fact, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the United States and the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 24, and the rates are steadily increasing.

Portions of the proceeds from the Self Discovery: Pain, Positioning and Purpose Tour will benefit AFSP and their work to fund research to improve interventions, train clinicians in suicide prevention, and advocate for policy that will save lives. During the tour, Abram will also be signing her award-winning signature tour book, “The Valley of Transfiguration: 40 Days with God in My Grief: Pain Positioning and Purpose.”

The tour kicked off in Atlanta on June 3rd, in honor of Venessa’s brother’s birthday, June 5. The tour will arrive in Gary, IN on July 28; New Orleans, LA on August 11; Dallas, TX on August 25; Baltimore, MD on September 22 and Jackson, MS on October 20.

In addition to Abram, other speakers participating in all eight-cities of the tour who will bring education, encouragement, enlightenment and inspiration to attendees include Norma Stanley, a disability community consultant and advocate, author and singer and Torre A. Stocker, an author, business consultant and mentor who will be part of the entire tour. Other speakers participating in the tour in select cities include, Robin Hair, Nichole Ebullience Peters, Ashley Smith, Ziza McMillan, Deacon Jesse L. Anderson, Ira Warren, Teresa Wright-Johnson, Pastor Torrey Montgomery, Kimberly McGowan.

“Mental illness is an invisible disability that often leads to suicide and I want to let people know this is something that is becoming an epidemic and is devastating families all around the country,” shared Abram.  “The goal of this tour is to not only educate people about mental illness, depression and the stigma surrounding suicide, but to help instill hope, renewed purpose and a thirst for life, through the powerful messages brought from some amazing speakers, about overcoming those dark periods we all experience at times,” Abram said.

Tickets to the event in each city, is $25. For more information about the Self Discovery: Pain, Positioning and Purpose Tour or to purchase tickets, go to To make a donation to AFSP on behalf of the tour visit:

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