By Ian Oakes 

Healing Words Event Aims to Raise Awareness About Suicide


Christine Venery and Ann Duckless work to reduce the stigma survivors of suicide loss face.

On Thursday, at the HAVFD on Rt. 37 in Akwesasne, an event to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma attached with suicide called Healing Words: Speaking Safely About Suicide, was held amidst about 13 community members. Ann Duckless, with the Connect Project – an organization that provides customized training and interaction with experts in the field of suicide prevention and postvention – was the presenter for the event. She travels all over North America providing training and resources for professionals.

The purpose of the event was to learn how to talk about suicide safely as well as healing and hope for the future. In addition it was to raise awareness that the Suicide Prevention Coalition which Christine Venery, Mental Health Director of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Mental Health Department, is beginning, and will include community members. Venery offered this message to people who have experienced suicide, or may be in crisis now, “It’s OK to ask for help, it’s really about reducing stigma.”

Duckless said about the purpose of the event, “We need to give survivors of suicide loss permission to talk, and to respect each individual’s healing process from grief and loss.” Duckless described suicide as “the most traumatic of sudden death there is.”

The event, which ran about 45 minutes, included a presentation filled with information and resources for survivors, including online mental health screening tools, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-237-talk, and online resources from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which is located at

Those interested in finding out more about the Suicide Prevention Coalition should contact Christine Venery at 358-3141 ex. 160


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