Conference Traveling to Nine U.S. Cities and Jamaica, West indies
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. Unfortunately, many people who die from suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. In an effort to address this growing epidemic, Venessa Abram, a suicide survivor and founder of the non-profit, Self Discovery: Pain, Positioning and Purpose, Inc., is working to change the statistics through education and empowerment, with the “Taking the Mask Off” International Conference Tour.
Abram, an award-winning author, speaker and trainer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Junior Board Member of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and member of United Suicide Survivors International, launched the Self Discovery: Pain, Positioning and Purpose Conference tour in 2018. The tour went to eight cities and shared critical information with audiences about the connection of mental illness to suicide and what signs to look for in family and friends who may be contemplating suicide. In fact, the 2018 tour was created in response to her older brother, a U.S. Army veteran, who took his own life in 2017.
“This is very personal for me, as my beloved brother died from suicide two years ago and I too attempted to take my life in 2008,” shared Abram. “There are many issues that contribute to suicide including relationships, substance abuse, money, physical health, etc., and it has become a real epidemic because approximately 50,000 people die every year as the result of it,” she continued. “My goal is to make sure everyone including the government, business, employers, community organizations, educators, media, etc., are working together to help prevent it,” she said.
The “Take Off the Mask” International Conference will feature Abram and includes speakers, authors and experts in mental health, suicide and invisible disabilities. A free event open to the public, the conferences will be held primarily at libraries in nine cities across the country, beginning in May.
The Conference will kick off in Gary, IN, on May 11, where the event will be held at the American Legion Post at 1220 Taft Street.
Additional cities include Indianapolis, IN (May 18); Atlanta GA (June 8); Seattle, WA (July 20); Miami, FL (August 10); Ft. Worth, TX (August 24); Baltimore, MD (September 21); Jamaica, WI (October 6-12) and Jackson, MS (October 19).
The conference in Jamaica came as an invitation from Leneka Rhoden, Ambassador of the Governor General’s I Believe Initiative, and Monique Lynch, Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassador. While in Jamaica, Abram will visit Denham Town, Tivoli Gardens and other parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew. During these visits they will share mental health information in schools, hospitals, churches and homes for children.
A six-time best-selling author, Abram recently released a series of books on mental illness and suicide, entitled “The Face of a Suicide Survivor, The Struggle is Real,” and Series 1 Mental Health Anthology, entitled, “The Voices Behind Mental Illness,” which was co-authored by six women.
She is also host of an online radio show, called “Self-Discovery with Venessa,” heard weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. EST on the internet Radio Station Steel City Gospel. In addition, Abram is also the host of a new television show of the same name, and will focus on topics surrounding mental health and suicide. The show will begin airing weekly on April 22 on WATC-TV, Channel 57 in Atlanta.
“Mental illness does not discriminate; it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor,” says Abram. “What we see with what has happened to wealthy celebrities like Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain and Craig Turner taking their own life, is that people who have been personally impacted by mental illness need to know they are not alone, and that there is hope,” she continued.
“My older brother, who was a veteran, took his life and since then I have been on a journey of healing and reaching out to see how I can bring more awareness around the importance of mental health. My mission is to do what I can to help remove the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide, and help families heal who have experienced it,” Abram said.
Sponsorships of the upcoming ‘Taking the Mask Off’ International Conference are still available. Current sponsors include, E.E.E. Marketing Group; Steel City Gospel Radio; City of Gary; In the Key of Dance, LLC; and Miss Jessie’s Hair Products. For more information about the conference, and to make donations, visit www.sd-ppp.org. For media inquiries, contact Norma Stanley, E.E.E. Marketing Group at 404/451-1811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.