In honor of Suicide Prevention Month, we’re sharing the story of JoJo Taylor who is one of the new faces of our Help, Healing, Health and Hope campaign. Suicide Prevention Month is a time to raise awareness of suicide and highlight the ways everyone plays a part in prevention. It’s also a good time to talk about suicide postvention—the activities and response that occur after a suicide, which help to reduce risk and encourage healing for those affected by the loss. Postvention has played a big role in JoJo’s life, and it’s now the focus of her career.
Shortly after JoJo Taylor lost her mom to suicide in December 2020, she was seeking resources for help dealing with the loss. She got connected to an organization but unfortunately the wait time to get in was too long for what she knew she needed.
“I had already lost a really good friend to suicide several years prior, and I just knew I needed to find other people to talk to,” said JoJo.
Eventually someone referred her to LOSS Community Services, an ADAMH-funded agency whose mission is to provide hope to those bereaved by suicide, empowering survivors so they can thrive. She was able to join a LOSS support group in January 2021.
“It was virtual, which was super helpful because it’s hard to just get out of bed, much less drive somewhere and share all your emotions,” said JoJo. She was grateful for the support the group provided and through it she was paired with a companion for LOSS’s one-on-one program. JoJo and her LOSS companion would do activities together like meet for brunch. It was an opportunity to be social with someone who understood the grief she was still going through.
JoJo quit her job in the manufacturing industry after taking a leave of absence following the loss of her mom. This wasn’t just a result of the grief; this was a thoughtful decision JoJo made for own well-being. JoJo had already been thinking about changing career paths, and her mom’s passing was a wake-up call to take action.
“Once my mom died, I was like ‘OK, what do I really want here? Because she was successful and awesome, and she still struggled. I’ve struggled with depression and suicidal ideation. So, how am I going to avoid this happening to me? It’s kind of time to step back and reevaluate things.’”
After quitting her job, JoJo started volunteering with LOSS as a phone dispatcher through their first responder program. When activated by the coroner’s office, trained LOSS volunteers immediately provide resources, understanding and support to the newly bereaved. JoJo wanted to do something to help others but also wanted to start small. Being able to volunteer remotely was a great fit.
A few months later, LOSS had a job opening for a bookkeeping administrative position that also managed the resources that are provided to survivors. JoJo took the job. She’s been able to use the problem-solving skills from her time as an engineer to help others in a way that is very meaningful to her.
“It’s awesome getting to work with people more,” said JoJo. “I do a lot of the outreach to survivors within the days after their loss. To be able to just talk on the phone with them and be there and hear their story and let them know that they’re not alone is so special.”