According to the World Health Organization, one person completes suicide every 40 seconds. Being present for those in distress can be a powerful form of support, however, the approach taken when offering help to individuals coping with trauma or contemplating suicide is equally important. Acknowledging and understanding our own biases and assumptions when interacting with individuals dealing with trauma is crucial and has led to a movement of awareness and understanding in this area.
Taking the concept of “trauma-informed care” a further step forward, AWARE Global has spearheaded the TraumaAware Care movement. “These two [concepts] work together. They’re not here to replace one another,” Angel Prater, AWARE co-founder, and consultant explain. “Trauma-Informed Care allows the fulfillment of international and national standards of care. Meanwhile, TraumaAWARE Care is an internal process for this external practice [of trauma-informed care].”
With their emphasis on awareness at the forefront, AWARE Consulting Group’s website is an educational treasure trove. From self-paced courses to organizational workshops, there is something for everyone. And that’s not all – their apparel line is not just stylish, it’s meaningful too. Clothing pieces that promote awareness and normalize conversations about mental health, as well as items that support the Free Hugs Initiative.
One of AWARE Global’s important initiatives is the Suicide as a Language of Pain (SLOP) support groups, partnered with Intentional Peer Support a powerful framework for building relationships, gives a voice to survivors and those thinking of suicide. AWARE is dedicated to providing a safe and confidential space for individuals living with suicidal ideation or people who simply feel like giving up, to share their experiences and emotions.
This 90-minute support group, facilitated by survivors for survivors, serves as an opportunity for individuals to be heard with empathy, receive hopeful responses, and express their innermost thoughts without fear of judgment. It is an essential step in the healing process and an important aspect of the organization’s mission to support those affected by suicide.
This Global Suicide Prevention and trauma awareness initiative allow individuals to find a sense of community and connection with one another. “At AWARE, our mission is to spread love and support to those in need,” says Angel. “We aim to break the stigma surrounding suicide and understand it as an action or outcome of intense and painful feelings. Our goal is to raise awareness and respond with hope instead of fear. It’s crucial for family, friends, helpers, and community members to be aware of their fear-based reactions and to learn to pause, listen, and support those in need.”
The campaign provides an opportunity for individuals to respond with hope and support and creates safe spaces for those who need to be heard and express their feelings. Oftentimes, people may require help, but their needs are not acknowledged as others are more focused on providing help based on their perceptions and fear. By using conversation-starting shirts with bold printed letters that say, “Free Hugs”, AWARE is working towards connecting individuals, spreading awareness, and potentially saving a life, one hug at a time.
The fundamental human need for connection is what drives individuals to support one another. Recognizing this, AWARE uses this principle to bridge the gap between communities. By connecting individuals in simple ways and redirecting their focus to building relationships, the initiative aims to prevent individuals from suffering in isolation. This underscores the importance of community, awareness, and the belief that healing is possible and can be attained through hope, connection, and trusting relationships. The Free Hugs initiative is about spreading awareness and changing the conversation around mental health and trauma.
When we take the time to listen, respond with hope and offer support to individuals experiencing loneliness, emotional pain, isolation, anger, or any other difficult emotion that can lead to feelings of hopelessness and suicide, the Free Hugs Initiative is a powerful tool to lift spirits and bring new meaning to a difficult topic. It serves as a reminder to those who are struggling that their pain is valid, and they deserve to be heard, validated and supported. No one should ever feel alone or afraid to speak up and ask for help. It’s a powerful and uplifting way to create a sense of belonging, hope, and understanding!
Though a hug may seem like a small gesture, it carries a profound power to initiate change and to raise awareness for suicide prevention and trauma AWAREness. It is an opportunity to inspire and bring about positive transformation in the lives of those who need it the most. The Free Hugs initiative is more than just a physical embrace, it is a symbol of love, support, and connection that can make a significant impact on the lives of individuals and communities.
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AWARE Global Initiative – https://www.awareglobal.org/
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