In the fall of 1980, a phone call changed the course of Scott Carty’s life. Then a fourth grader, he was eating dinner at a neighbor’s house when the news broke: his sister Debbie had taken her own life. Now a television host and entertainment correspondent, Carty honors Debbie’s memory through storytelling. His is one of the many voices and roles shaping the modern narrative of suicide and suicide prevention.
Carty will co-emcee Forefront’s 4th Annual dinner Nov. 30 with Tracy Taylor of KING 5. This year’s theme, “A Place for Everyone,” highlights suicide prevention’s comprehensive nature from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom Husky Union Building. Registration is required for this free public event.
“In the 36 years since Debbie’s death, I have lost more friends, colleagues and family members to suicide,” Carty said. “As I grew up, I found my best way to cope was to talk about my sister’s suicide. It was never easy — mostly for those who heard my story — but it was important to me.”
Also a loss survivor, this will be Taylor’s fourth year as a Forefront emcee.
“I believe that if my dad knew that there was a place or an organization for my dad to get help, he would have done so instead of taking his own life,” said Taylor, who also lost her uncle to suicide.
The evening’s theme underscores Forefront’s commitment to making suicide prevention a full-scale community effort, as evidenced in its past year of enlisting allies as diverse as nurses, pharmacists and firearm dealers. Headliners will include mental health advocate and UW alumni Brandon Hadi, Washington’s First Lady Trudi Inslee, and radio talk show host Bill Radke. Each will make brief remarks about the roles they play in suicide prevention and in doing so, making Washington a model suicide-safer state:
- Hadi spearheaded the API Mental Health & Wellness Summit after losing a close friend to suicide last year.
- Inslee has provided unwavering support to Washington’s suicide prevention movement, including hosting Suicide Prevention Education day in January.
- Radke, who lost his brother to suicide three years ago, has covered suicide prevention through a lens of public health, including these interviews with Jennifer Stuber and Marny Lombard.
“We are honored to have these individuals share their vital roles in suicide prevention inspiring all of us play our parts,” said Forefront Executive Director Jennifer Stuber.
Loss and attempt survivors, gun rights advocates, mental health counselors, pharmacists, parents, teachers, and many others also have roles to play. Forefront volunteers, advisory board members and staffers, recently explored this theme through two questions: What is your role in suicide prevention? Why is it meaningful to you?
- ”… to fulfill the void/obligation/calling that only a loss survivor can … In spite of the tragedy I’ve endured, I’ve been called to do what will be my life’s most important work.” – David Yamashita, whose mother died by suicide.
- “… to reduce the number of children and adolescents who become at-risk and engage in self-harming behavior by providing an upstream approach to prevention.” – Jim Mazza, UW Professor in the College of Education and Director of the School Psychology Program.
“… to share the info that I wish I had had prior to my son’s death. Just as a coach or parent will rush to the aid of an athlete who has injured their ankle on the soccer field, adults should hustle to help teens who need emotional support or assessment.” – Kathleen Gilligan, who lost her son Palmer to suicide.
As the social movement to prevent suicide grows, numerous individuals have shone in their roles. Forefront’s dinner will also acknowledge five award winners who made an impact in areas ranging from policymaking to journalism and student leadership.
Musical performances will express hope in the face of loss: Ethan Deutsch will play the flamenco guitar in memory of his son, who died by suicide, and Issaquah High School student Sam Foster, rapper One2 (also known as Ralph Redmond IV), and drummer Jawann Blanchey will perform an original collaboration.
The evening also includes a viewing of “Full Circle,” directed by Rick Stevenson and edited by David Friedle, on the true story of one Washington community’s progression from tragedy to preparedness.
Such vignettes and artistic expressions open up a healing dialogue for loss survivors like Carty.
“By telling my sister’s story — my story—and by working together through Forefront, we’re making it OK to talk about suicide and to give those who are hurting a voice.”