By Alyson Kay
Community Crisis Services Incorporated (CCSI) held an event last week in Hyattsville on finding the strength to overcome suicidal thoughts, abuse and addiction.
Around 60 people came out to the gathering, called P.S. There is Hope, to hear speakers who overcame difficult situations talk about their experiences and how they have been shaped by them.
Among them was Prince George’s County District Two Council Member Deni Taveras, who lost her mother to suicide.
“The secrets weren’t helping,” Taveras said, referring to what she described as a stigma in the Latino community surrounding mental illness. “We had to talk about these things.”
Alcoholism recovery was discussed, too, as well as surviving sexual assault and suicide attempts.
The youngest speaker, 16-year-old Mya Williams, recited poems about being bullied and living with depression.
“It’s hard to touch on everything, but they touched on a lot,” said Eileen Murray Kraft from the Wolf Pack Theater Company, which performed a preview of their upcoming play about sex trafficking. “I really believe that we need to support each other. The more that we talk about it, the less of a stigma there is.”
According to William Leary, the development coordinator for CCSI, the event was called P.S. There is Hope because the staff at the call center often feel that there’s something more that they can say when a call is over.
“When you hang up that phone, it kind of feels almost like you cut that person off and that you may not have the opportunity to talk to them again,” Leary said. “And you really want to be able to, like in a letter, have that postscript saying ‘You know what? It’s going to be OK. There is hope.’”
Vanessa Berben, a CCSI shift leader and one of the speakers at the event, said that she wants to show that there can be hope after a suicide attempt and that people can push through setbacks.
“I want to be someone who helps let people know they can talk about it,” Berben said. “We can share our stories together.”
Founded in 1970, the non-profit is a one-stop calling center for information and assistance for those in crisis, operating 24 hours a day, 365 days.
Wolf Pack Theater Company’s “Forsaken Angels” is showing at the First Baptist Church in Hyattsville until Jun 24. Proceeds will benefit CCSI and their efforts to prevent suicide and help the homeless.