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JD Foundation in Abbot works to address suicide awareness

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ABBOT — Lately, high profile suicides have blanketed the news – the shocking deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain make people wonder, how can someone who appears to have everything do this kind of thing? Why would they leave their family in tatters, especially impacting their young children left behind? Spade had a 13 year old, Bourdain an 11 year old. What a horrendous legacy to leave those kids.
The tragic truth in this country is that suicide rates are up 28 percent according to recent findings by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and it continues to rise among teens and young adults. The JD Foundation in Abbot, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this October, is working to address this alarming statistic each and every day.

The foundation was created directly in response to the loss of a child by suicide. This is the kind of terrible thing no parent ever wants to experience and yet, it happened to Cheryl Morin on Nov. 18, 2005, when her son William Jody Day (aka Joe) took his own life. “Even after almost 13 years, this is still very difficult to write and believe,” she penned in her website blog. “It is a feeling that you know to be true, but is too painful to allow it to be.”

It would have been easy for her to cave to all those crushing feelings, but Morin turned her pain into action, creating the JD Foundation as an educational tool and pouring her energy into making it work. As she says “My goal was to have every lay person and every professional person recognize the warning signs (of suicide) which I didn’t have to save my son. You do whatever you can so that you can stay connected,” Morin continued. “This is the way I survive, to be of help to other people.”
Since its beginnings, the Foundation has steadily grown as an educational tool to bring suicide prevention awareness to the forefront, albeit with that very limited budget. “The JD Foundation continues to target causes that may lead to suicide, such as depression and mental illness, through development of support programs centered on the interrelationship of mind, body and soul with workshops, retreats, exercise, nutrition and nature,” Morin said.

Over the last 10 years, the foundation’s name is really getting out. This past month Morin was surprised with a check for $1,000, a gift from three high schools in southern Maine (Wells, Biddeford and Oxford Hills). “We are so grateful,” she said. “It’s the special people behind these donations that make all the difference. Especially the kids.” She cited Dover-Foxcroft resident Kholton Perry. “He’s only 13, and he recently raised $2,500 for the foundation,” she said. “He’s been with us since the ‘get-go’ and although he’s a really busy kid – baseball, basketball, raising chickens – he still found time to be involved.”

She is also grateful to Emily Vraux, a Greenville High School junior who galvanized a suicide awareness movement at her school and for the baseball teams. “She personally raised $750 for us,” Morin said.

One of the annual events at the JD Foundation is the auction, kindly chaired by Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville of the Maine Legislature. It’s coming up on Saturday, July 14. “We’re looking for donations at this time,” Morin said. “Especially camping and summer sports items, and we could also use some nice furniture pieces.”

In addition to the auction, there are annual walks and wonderful outdoor trips guided by Cheryl’s husband Vic. “Our biggest draw has been that ‘Connecting with Nature’ program, designed to get people out, to move their bodies, to help them heal through the natural elements that nature offers” she said.

Morin fields calls every day concerning suicide and has continued her tireless work with her survivor support groups, suicide awareness workshops, healing retreats and the recently created workshops for veterans. “The new facilitator Adrianne Clark is a veteran herself and now the new commander for the American Legion in Dover – we do that twice a month,” Morin added.

Unfortunately, suicide has been a leading cause of death in Maine among young people for some time. The JD Foundation aims to change that awful statistic.

“Suicide brings on a lot of complicated feelings in people they may not have if the death were under different circumstances,” Morin said. “We want to help people with their grief and guilt – it’s part of the burden,” she paused. “I’ve read that people who take their own lives essentially give their pain away to those that are left behind. That’s what we address every day.”

For more information on the foundation, visit them on Facebook or online: www.thejdfoundation.org, or contact Cheryl Morin directly at 876-2295, or jdfoundation@yahoo.com.

Observer photo/Shelagh Talbot
JD FOUNDATION AUCTION JULY 14 — Cheryl Morin, founder of the JD Foundation in Abbot which works to promote suicide awareness and prevention, holds a piece of donated artwork to be featured at the foundation’s annual auction on July 14.

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