Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (BBR) (www.bbrfoundation.org):
You/MARCS Foundation collectively donated to this amazing organization that is focused on funding brain research through NARSAD Grants – their current quarterly report is an amazing collection of brief descriptions of research grants that BBR has funded targeting different brain illnesses and using BBR donations to “seed” new and innovative approaches to understanding and treating the brain for depression, bipolar disorder, autism, anxiety disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and many others – the list goes on and on. If you are interested in learning about some of the breakthroughs that are being made with diagnosing through blood tests/markers, brain scans and other objective diagnostic methods, check out their report – in our opinion it is one of the more encouraging collections of research and does seem to set the stage for one day, using objective tests to predict, diagnose and treat brain illnesses for a healthier more productive society – “In 60 years the suicide rate in the US has remained virtually unchanged” – it’s about time we got “smart” about how to diagnose and treat this disease. We recently attended a lecture by J. John Mann, M.D. Columbia university to hear about his study that set out to discover what was different in the brains of people who had suffered from major depression and taken their own lives – with this clear picture of what to look at and for in a brain scan, we can begin to predict and prevent suicides. This is just a sample of the type of research that BBR has funded over the years – the BBR website lists many of the lectures for replay if you are interested in learning more about various research projects. – Thanks to one of our supporters for making us aware of this organization.
Washington University – Department of Psychiatry:
This is quite a story of “connecting the dots” – thanks to close family friends for establishing a scholarship in Marc’s memory for medical school students at Washington University. The recipient of the 2014 Marc Abrams’ memorial scholarship is an amazing young lady who is in the psychiatry program and touched our lives (long distance) by making a personal donation to MARCS foundation and sending us the most incredible heartfelt email – having never met us nor Marc, she was truly touched and felt connected and as fate would have it, wants to become a child psychiatrist. We were thrilled to have made this connection and I am confident that she will make a difference in helping others through her intelligence and drive. I explained that we were looking to help make a difference in several areas; finding new innovative research where we could invest and make a difference, incorporation of psychiatric and mental health screening into primary care physicals and one area we feel particularly strongly about is the post hospitalization care and follow up once someone is discharged after care for mental illness and suicide attempts – the system in the US is grossly inadequate and pales in comparison to other developed countries.– In the US —> 2.7mil had serious thoughts 1.3 attempted and over 40,000 completed suicide – congressional hearing on suicide prevention (23 worthwhile minsof your time): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJKHhWjgo68 – Anyway back to the connection, I was put in contact with Charles F. Zorumski, M.D. – head of psychiatry – Washington University. After several in-depth conversations with Dr. Zorumski about our goals and desired personal impact we want to make, he suggested we look at a relatively new innovative research by Chad Sylvester, M.D. and upon review, we made an investment on behalf of MARCS Foundation in the following study:
Chad Sylvester, M.D. – (link):
According to Dr. Zorumski, Dr. Sylvester is one of the brightest young minds in research today and has high expectations of the work being done to better understand the functions of the regions of the brain for early diagnosis and treatment – ideally while the brain is still “plastic” – and preferably through the use of cognitive techniques i.e.. CBT, DBT and other “brain exercises” to help reshape the brain and prevent future brain illnesses. Through these new connections and your generosity, we were able to contribute directly to this study – stay tuned for future updates.
One Mind (fka One Mind for Research)- (www.onemind.org):
One Mind wants to harness the results and methodologies of disparate research projects (usually in separate and typically competing organizations) to collaborate through One-Mind’s “Gemini” database to build synergy and accelerate understanding and cures for mental illness and reduce suicides. The organization was co-founded and launched by Patrick Kennedy and turnedover in 2012 to General Pete Chiarelli, retired U.S. Army 4 star General. Joy and I spoke with General Chiarelli for well over an hour about their mission and objectives to eliminate the stigma with mental illness and suicide to aid in the funding and awareness to accelerate the research results. From reading about the Kennedy family and their struggles over the years with mental illness, I understood Patrick’s motivation for starting One Mind, however I asked the General what his motivation was – his answer highlights the growing epidemic in this country- “I led approximately 147,000 troops into combat over multiple tours and got sick and tired of seeing the suicide rate spiral out of control upon the troops’ return” – There have been more deaths from suicide than combat deaths in recent wars – It’s time to do something about it – One Mind is only the beginning. If you have any influence or connections with research institutions, please help spread the word about One Mind and their “open source” approach to beating this disease.
American Association of Suicidology (www.suicidology.com):
Focused on understanding and preventing suicide and educating multiple groups: industry professionals, attempt survivors and loss survivors. They are the “go-to” source for these groups and hold conferences and lectures to build collaboration across all groups to further the care for others, with the goal of saving lives. We are thinking about attending their “Healing after suicide” conference being held in Atlanta this April. With some basic math – with over 40,000 deaths by suicide in the U.S. each year, and assuming each leaves behind a minimum of 3 immediate family members, that means over 120,000 people are left behind to learn how to get by day by day in the aftermath each and every year – this organization is dedicated to helping “us” and teaching how to help others in need and prevent by educating and talking to anyone that will listen and help. They also hold an annual conference for industry professionals (48th annual) to continue to teach and collaborate professionals in the area of suicide prevention.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – (www.nami.org):
We have been in contact with Palm Beach and Collier County chapters – With over 60 million Americans experiencing a mental health condition each year, NAMI’s mission is to build better lives for for those affected by mental illness by advocating for better services, treatment and promote research. Their local chapters are laser focused on the needs of the local community and a tremendous resource for those suffering from mental illness. I became very familiar with the Collier County chapter from a local newspaper article about a book a Naples resident wrote after the loss of her son – I immediately drove from Marco to Naples to meet the team from NAMI-Collier and purchased “Surviving Suicide by Deena Baxter” -of course I connected with Deena to “pick her brain” and learn as much as I could about NAMI and also her journey to date. If you or someone you know are in need of some guidance and direction with understanding and treating mental illness – I urge you to reach out to your local NAMI chapter.
Alliance of Hope (www.allianceofhope.org):
This is an online bulletin board and blog for those in need to connect with others virtually – an amazing collection of dialogues to read and learn from, as well as individually interact with others for those in need – whether it be prevention, intervention and/or post-vention. We have used this site to connect with several people and organizations that are helping guide us to make a difference for us and others.
FISP (Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention) – (www.fisponline.org):
The founders (Jackie and Harry Rosen) of this local Weston based organization were introduced to us by multiple friends that knew the Rosens from various circles: business, political (Harry Rosen is the former mayor of Miramar and Weston) and social. After the 3rd mention of the Rosen’s name, we felt it was in the cards for us to meet. I first read Jackie Rosen’s book :”The butterfly on my shoulder” – a series of insightful poems written over the 20+ years since they lost their son to suicide and compiled in this one book. It was a very helpful meeting and ongoing dialogue with the Rosens about their organization have continued. FISP is focused on eliminating the stigma by educating in the schools. They developed a program called Hugs for Hope – “Helping Overcome Problems Effectively” (www.fisphope.org) and are currently in 15 schools in Broward and Miami–Dade counties. The curriculum is taught through a HOPE club with the mission to educate, support and develop problem solving, coping and leadership skills while fostering the prevention of suicide, bullying and substance abuse.
CHADS Coalition (www.chadscoalition.org):
Based in St. Louis area and similar goals to FISP but focused on the St. Louis area – This is another introduction generated through the Washington University scholarship fund connection – Dr. Zorumski suggested I speak with Marian McCord, founder of CHADS Coalition after she and her husband lost their son Chad to suicide in 2004 – check out Chad’s story on their website – just a fewhighlights about Chad: Eagle scout, top 15% of his class, church group retreat leader, outstanding athlete and on and on – unfortunately he suffered from depression and anxiety disorder and left us April 15, 2004 – way too soon. Marian and I spoke for well over an hour about CHAD and their journey and best practices with CHADS Coalition – we are listening and learning from anyone we can.
Team First-PAL (www.teamfirst.org):
As most of you know, Marc loved the game of tennis, watching and playing. This organization is Palm Beach based and is focused on using the game of tennis to teach elementary school students (primarily inner-city) life skills through the game of tennis. With professional tennis players coaching and certified classroom teachers teaching, (and in conjunction with PAL-Police Athletic League) this program is the ultimate in prevention through teaching coping and social skills to reduce anxiety/stress and building a solid base of self esteem. With Marc’s passion for tennis and understanding that building a solid base of coping skills in early childhood can have a direct positive impact on one’s mental health, we have teamed up with this organization to help give back where we can see direct connection of our donations to the smiles and lives we are directly impacting.
AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) – (www.afsp.org):
There are multiple chapters throughout the U.S. And typically multiple within a state. We have become very involved with the local south FL chapter (Dana and I are on the board of directors) and as most of you are aware, we all participated in their Out of the Darkness walk (raising awareness for suicide prevention) in Palm Beach county and also Rhode Island for the first Annual MARCS Foundation 5K run and Out of the Darkness walk on the beautiful URI campus. Thank you to all for your support and keep an eye out for 2015 run and walk (save the date for MARCS Foundation 5K – October 18th-URI Campus). Additionally there is a national Out of the Darkness –Overnight walk that we are most likely doing this year (Dallas – April 25th and Boston -June 27th) – it’s 16-18 miles from dusk to dawn. We will keep you posted for those that would like to join us. AFSP is aligned well with our goals for giving back – they are well funded and organized and simultaneously focused on education to prevent suicide, funding for research and political lobbies for government awareness and support and post-vention for survivors.