Mental Health Awareness Month: Declaring ‘WAR’ On Suicide


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The US Surgeon General calls mental health the defining health crisis of our time. In fact, last year, more than 50 thousand people took their life by suicide. That’s the highest rate of suicide that the nation has ever seen. And in recent years, young African Americans between 10 and 24 years old saw the largest increase in suicides. Now, one woman is declaring war on suicide, and is teaching others how to help change the stigma surrounding mental health issues, especially in the black community.

“I was extremely tired. All I wanted to do was go to sleep. My work suffered,” said Fonda Bryant.

Fonda Bryant was a single mom — stressed over finances.

“Those negative thoughts ‘You’re not worthy. Your son would be better off, kill yourself. Nobody’s gonna miss you.’ Those are the things that hit you the most,” explained Bryant.

This was Fonda’s first time that she thought about taking her life. The second time…

“I was gonna jump from a parking deck.”

One last call saved her life.

“I called my Aunt Spankie, and I told her she could have my shoes,” Bryant said.

“That didn’t sit well with me. I called her back and I asked her, ‘Are you planning to hurt yourself? Are you planning to kill yourself?’ and she said, ‘yes,’” says Kelly Davis.

Aunt Spankie immediately called authorities and Fonda was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. A few years later, Fonda started putting up signs in parking garages — they give people the number to call to get immediate help. Next, she supported a bill in the North Carolina legislature to set aside 500 thousand dollars to put up the signs all over the state, then she began teaching QPR.

“QPR stands for question, persuade, refer,” explained Bryant.

She has taught thousands of people through free monthly webinars and in-person classes on how to help someone who is suicidal and how to recognize the signs, including…

“Change in appearance. Also not eating or eating too much. Turning to substance abuse,” says Bryant.

Fonda also started her own non-profit called wellness, action, recovery. Which stands for war.

“I tell everybody I go to war with the public, that we’re crazy, we’re nuts, we’re psycho,” said Bryant.

She wants everyone suffering with their mental health to know, you are not alone.

“Those three words are so important because a lot of times when we’re struggling, you feel so alone,” explained Bryant.

Fonda teaches QPR training for free once a month. You can sign up at Once you complete the two-hour course, you will become a certified gatekeeper, which means you will know what to do and how to recognize the signs and help someone who is suicidal.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts and need help immediately, call the National Crisis Hotline at 9-8-8. Mental Health Awareness

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Bob Walko, Editor, Matt Goldschmidt, Photographer

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