Making a Difference: CRISISLINK benefit

It’s not uncommon for parents to approach me after I give a speech and tell me that their son or daughter has attempted suicide or successfully ended their own life. These are always heartbreaking moments and I am always at a loss for the right words.

What do you tell a parent when their child has committed suicide?

One of the most poignant encounters I have had was with two emotionally distraught parents who approached me after a speech in Philadelphia. The couple explained that their son had ended his life and then they told me that they were both psychiatrists. “Even we didn’t know how to save him,” the father said.  

Suicide is something that terrifies all of us who have a loved one with a severe mental illness.

Which is why I was both thrilled and honored when I was invited to participate in CrisisLink’s annual fund-raising banquet March 24, 2010 between 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Clarendon Ballroom, 3185 Wilson Blvd., in Arlington, VA.


CrisisLine operates a 24-hour hotline to help persons who are facing crises, trauma, and/or considering suicide. Since 1969, CrisisLink has fielded over half a million calls, provided a quarter of million referrals, and answered over 25,000 calls concerning suicide. If you want to know how important CrisisLine is put yourself in the shoes of a person who feels completely overwhelmed and alone. Ending your life appears to be the only solution, but before you take that final step, you call CrisisLine and someone answers who assures you that your life is worth living and offers to put you in touch with professionals who can help. 

To me, having that assistance available is essential and priceless. Keeping these emergency hotlines operating is even more urgent today than in the past because of budget cutbacks.

 Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide, but bipolar disorder is a close second. Some studies claim that as many as 50 percent of persons diagnosed with manic depression attempt suicide. About one in four of those attempts end in death. For schizophrenia, the rate is four attempts out of every ten persons.

 Tickets for the CrisisLine fundraiser can be bought here. If you live in this area, please attend and take part in the auction. CrisisLink’s goal is to raise $100,000 which it needs to keep its lines open. If you attend, be sure to  introduce yourself to me. I am going to give the first five people who come to the benefit and mention that they read my blog, a free, personalized copy of CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.  See you there!


     Those of you who don’t read The Washington Post missed an editorial that I wrote on Sunday. It describes what has happened in Virginia in mental health since the Virginia Tech massacre. You can read it here.
     Unfortunately, what has happened was predictable because it has been going on over- and- over again throughout our history. Whenever there is a tragedy of the magnitude of Virginia Tech, the public gets upset, politicians jump on the bandwagon, legislation is hurried through and money is appropriated. But after the story falls from the front pages and politicians need to cut spending — bingo — mental health services are the first to be chopped. The reason is explained in a blog I posted a few weeks ago called Votes or Money –We Need Both.
      The 33 persons who died at Virginia Tech deserve much better from our former governor, our current governor, and our legislature.
      I hope that someday those of us who care deeply about mental health will speak out so loudly and forcefully that our elected officials will carry through with their promises.
      When they do, lives will be saved.  
About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.


  1. Betty Wiener says

    Given how terrible schizophrenia is, I don't blame anyone for taking their own life.

  2. Betty Wiener says

    Given how terrible schizophrenia is, I don't blame anyone for taking their own life.