This past week, the Kane County Coroner’s Office officially declared the cause of a recent Geneva death a suicide. How sad that one of our neighbors could feel so hopeless that they would make the decision to end their life. Yet, as the economy continues to bottom out, many people are losing hope. What can we do as a community to help our neighbors who are suffering, often in silence?
First and foremost, we can create a culture of permission where it’s safe and comfortable to openly admit that all is not well. The best way to do that is for each of us to talk about how tough things are for everyone, and share a personal story about how you or someone you know has been affected by the economic downturn. If people hear that others are having difficulty too, they may be much more willing to share their story and be open to help.
Secondly, please talk about the fact that there is hope and help available in the community by calling the Lazarus House at (630) 587-5872) or the Salvation Army at (630) 377-2769. While we don’t have unlimited resources or all the answers, we do have access to some grant funding that may help people stay housed, and we know who to put folks in touch with to get help with things such as utility or prescription assistance. Many people in our community have never before had to ask for help, and so they are very embarrassed and don’t know where to turn. We need to help our neighbors know that their community understands and cares about them, and that their situation is not hopeless.
Should it not be possible for folks to stay in their housing, our neighbors need to know that Lazarus House is here to give them a safe, warm temporary home with good food and lots of support services that can help them get back on their feet. If they have children who are attending school in a neighboring school district (Geneva, Batavia, Kaneland, etc.), it is both a federal and state law that, once the family officially becomes homeless, the children can continue to attend their school, and the school districts are responsible for transporting the children door to door without cost to the family.
We must do all we can to assure that another of our neighbors doesn’t fall into despair and decide to end their life because they feel the situation is hopeless. Let us strengthen our resolve to work together as a community to care for one another, and please assist us in getting the word out that Lazarus House is here to help.