By Norma Stanley | November 2022
Venessa Abram, founder and CEO of Self-Discovery—Pain, Positioning and Purpose (SDP3), Is one business owner addressing mental health and its relation to suicide every day of her life. Abram, a suicide survivor, whose older brother died by suicide, is a passionate, impactful and relatable mental health advocate, author, speaker and workshop facilitator that has a heart to stop the growing phenomenon of suicide in all communities, but particularly communities of color. Her 501c3 nonprofit, SDP3 works to spread educational information on mental health and suicide awareness and prevention around the world, through events and conferences.
“At SDP3, we want to help people understand there is no health without mental health and that it’s OK not to be OK, but it’s not OK not to get the help you need,” says Abram, a multi-award-winning author of several books on the subject of mental health and suicide. “There is still too stigma around mental health issues, and that has to stop. We can no longer be quiet about what’s going on in our homes, In our communities, because our youth and adults are dying at unprecedented numbers, as a result of mental health issues and suicide,” said Abram.
SDP3 is a community-based organization that prepares individuals, families and communities to provide suicide prevention through training, support, resources and referrals for those at-risk for or impacted by suicide. Based in Duluth, GA, the organization engages in suicide education workshops, seminars, and coaching. The programs offered by SDP3, help trusted adult gatekeepers to be ready to respond to youth who are at-risk, as well as prepares adults, families and community-based organizations to respond to adults, particularly middle-age adults who are at-risk.
“My ultimate goal is to let people know it’s OK to get help, to get counseling to not be ashamed,” says Abram, who is a past trainer for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which is doing a short documentary of her life. “My brother dying by suicide affected me deeply. I too was embarrassed and didn’t want to take my medication, but about 10 years ago, I started to understand that I must maintain my mental health in order to live a full and healthy life,” shared Abram.
Abram says that having a mental illness is the same as having any illness, but people won’t go seek help due to sheer ignorance or shame. She says for herself, being constantly mindful of what she is thinking and doing that may not be healthy, as well as not being involved with toxic people or situations, is also critical. One main recommendation that Abram has for those who may be dealing with a mental health challenges, is that they must stand in their truth.
“I had to face myself…the good, the bad and the ugly,” shared Abram. “I also had to come to realization that I couldn’t be quiet about what was going on…so at SDP3, we say, ‘no silence, so shame, no suicide.’ The reality is that same way hurt people hurt people, healed people also heal people. No doubt it’s a fight from day to day, moment to moment, so I have to be mindful not to let negative energy in, to talk to my therapist about my pain and to learn new skills. Through lots of prayer, meditation and serving others, I’ve been able slowly heal and am so thankful through the work of SDP3, that we’ve been able to help others do the same,” she said. To learn more about Venessa Abram and SDP3, go to www.sdp3.org.