CLICK HERE to go to the website for Natalie's Light
Augusta, Ga (WJBF)—The holidays are marketed as "the happiest time of the year." However, for some of you it can be the most emotional time of the year. A local woman is using her grief to help others fight their own.
Dr. Leslie Lesoon founded Natalie's Light, naming the organization after her daughter who committed suicide almost 3 years ago. Their mission is to prevent suicide through awareness and give people the resources they need to overcome their own suicidal tendencies or help a loved one do the same.
At Natalie's vigil, Dr. Lesoon learned that she had been helping others through their own crises for years.
"She had been helping a number of people…and she literally let them know that they mattered," explained Dr. Lesoon. "These kids would send me these texts about how much she saved them…or helped get them through the night when they were suicidal."
That is when Lesoon decided to pick up where her daughter Natalie left off. She founded Natalie's Light in her daughters honor. She says she had to continue her daughter's legacy. She would not let her die in vain.
This epidemic of suicide and depression and anxiety that's going on in our country and across the world, it's preventable," says Dr. Lesoon. "And it's going to take a community, a community that cares to really solve this issue."
In the presentation she uses when speaking to groups, she shares the suicide rates in the CSRA. The slide shows that from January 2015 to December 2016—51 people committed suicide in Aiken County, 39 in Richmond County and 38 in Columbia County.
Dr. Lesoon says through Natalie's Light, they hope to build a culture that welcomes conversations that usually make people shy away.
"It is time that we erase the stigma," she points out. "Bring it up to your church groups and to be open in your schools. We need somebody to recognize this in classrooms and to ask for promoting awareness for depression and anxiety and suicide."
This holiday season…and throughout next year, Lesoon says take one step closer to those in your life who are struggling.
"It's just important to be there for each other and to not let a person to be alone," she says. "Make sure you invite them. Keep them busy. Keep them engaged. Give them a job to do so they're involved and talk to them."
She continues, when you talk to them do so without passing judgement, and simply listen.
Below are a list of resources you can use if you, or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, depression or anxiety.
Crisis Text Line 741-741
Georgia Crisis and Access Line: 1-800-715-4225
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Augusta Rape Crisis & Sexual Assault Services: 706-724-5200
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