Matt, Jenn, Jake and Zoe

Posted on: Monday, February 20, 2012

The Healing Center would like to highlight Jenn’s family experience so as to draw attention to the legislative efforts that are taking place for SHB 2366, before the Health & Long-Term Care Committee of the Washington State Senate, next Wednesday, 2/22 at 8AM.  For more information read Jenn’s letter to Healing Center Families on our blog.  Also visit King 5 New Day for Jenn on Stigma to Hope.

 

In February 2011, 40 year old Matt Adler, my loving husband, the father of young Jake and Zoe, and an accomplished attorney took his own life while in the midst of a battle with severe depression and an anxiety disorder.  Matt was a gentle, intelligent and witty man who made an indelible impression on those he met.  His death has left a gaping hole in the lives of many.  As his family, not a day goes by that we don’t continue to mourn the loss of Matt while at the same time recognizing signs of his continuing presence in rainbows.

Part of my own grief journey has been a desire to understand, as much as possible, Matt’s death.  I have reached out to experts in suicide for help.  On this journey, I learned there an opportunity for intervention that was missed by the mental health care professionals who were seeing my husband in the days leading up to his death.  This fact has caused me tremendous agony.

The experts have told me, most people who die by suicide have a mental illness and that some of these people, also have a chance for a life-saving intervention, but it might not happen. Training of our health care professionals in suicide assessment and treatment is often uneven, not up to date, or non-existent. It hasn’t been a priority for our health care professionals as a whole (of course, there are always exceptions).

In an effort to turn Matt’s death into a force for good, I approached legislator Representative Tina Orwall of the 33rd Legislative District to sponsor a bill that would require all health care professionals to have training in the assessment and treatment of suicidal patients. She instantly recognized the importance of the bill as suicide is a leading cause of premature death and WA State has many returning Veterans who are at high risk for suicide. The bill was passed unanimously in the House Health and Wellness Committee on 1/26 and will hopefully, be moving over to the Senate side of the legislature soon.

Stay tuned for how you can help…

-Jenn

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