State of Mind with Debra Sloss
Suicide Loss, Grief and Recovery

Episode #35: Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States and a preventable public health problem. In 2020, an average of 132 Americans a day died by suicide and 90% of those had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. All of those people had circles of family, friends, coworkers, classmates, teachers, and community members who are impacted by their death. In this episode, we talk with Leslie Nielsen, a mother who is now learning to navigate and live with this kind of grief after her adult son Ben died by suicide earlier this year. We’re also joined by Carly Memoli, Program Director for Suicide Prevention Service who explains this complicated grieving process and helps us understand the ways that people find their way through. Suicide is hard to talk about and this show might be hard to listen to, but the more you know, the more equipped you’ll be to help someone who is at risk or support someone who has had this kind of loss. This show is part 2 of a two-part series on suicide. We invite you to also check out last month’s show, Ep. 34: Suicide Prevention for Teens and Young Adults.

Broadcast: 10/3/21

Special thanks  to Jeanne Baldzikowski for audio production, to Jennifer Young for research and outreach, and to Izzy Weisz for marketing and social media. And thanks to acoustic guitarist Adrian Legg for composing, performing and donating the use of our theme music.

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County Health Receives Additional Funding for Outreach and Services
With Host Suki Wessling – Each year experts see a decline in mental health during the holidays. This year, Covid adds another layer to an already complex issue. Host Suki Wessling is joined by three experts from County Health to talk about the county’s focus on suicide prevention and access to crisis services during the holidays, and the grants that are allowing them to fund more outreach. Learn about County Behavioral Health efforts on suicide prevention, mobile outreach, and partnerships with law enforcement.



Crisis Support
National Suicide Prevention Lifelineprovides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 1-800-273-8255. Includes the following options:

Crisis Text Line– serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free 24/7 support via texting (a medium people already use and trust): Text “HOME“ to 741741 to reach a Crisis Counselor

Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast  – free 24-hour confidential hotline for those who are feeling suicidal or need support, serving the residents of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties) — Lifeline: 1-877-663-5433 // Administrative Line: (831) 459-9373

Grief Support
Grief Support at Hospice of Santa Cruz County – offers an extensive array of compassionate, professional, and individualized end-of-life care and grief support.  Grief support services are low or no-cost, for adults and youth, and may include support groups, one-day classes, or one-on-one support.  Contact them for more information about Grief Support, Transitional & Palliative Care, Hospice Care, Pediatric Care, or Community Education.

Suicide Bereavement Support Groups – Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast
Call 831-459-9373 for a brief intake with a caring staff member, who will connect you to a support group facilitator.  All facilitators and group attendees are survivors of suicide loss and provide caring support and encouragement to promote healing and safety for survivors of loss. Meetings are peer-based and drop in–come when you are able to receive and/or offer support. If you are suicidal or in crisis, please call 1-800-273-TALK or 1-877-663-5433.

American Association of Suicidologyexcellent site full of helpful information for professionals and for those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

Healing Conversations –  this peer-to-peer program gives survivors of suicide loss the opportunity to speak with supportive volunteers, who are themselves suicide loss survivors.  Individuals can submit an interest form to set up a phone call or an in-person or video meetup. Offered by American Association of Suicide Prevention.

No Time to Say Goodbye by  Carla Fine (1999) —  this book is specifically about surviving the suicide of a loved one.

Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief by David Kessler — this book brings compassion to the forefront in a powerful way and helps soften insensitivity one can be exposed to.

Heartbreak to Hope: Poems of Support for Grief and Loss by Kara Bowman — this book of poetry is a sensitive accompaniment for those who journey through grief. It captures so much of the darkness and difficulty of that journey while holding out hope that through those difficulties one can still get to a sense of peace–even growth.

Counseling Support
Family Service Agency (FSA) of the Central Coast is a dedicated underwriter of State of Mind. FSA provides resources, support, and counseling services to adults and children. FSA believes in the power and potential of people of all ages and backgrounds to discover their own creative solutions and welcomes people of diverse cultures, genders, sexual orientations, ages, faiths, socio-economic backgrounds.  FSA Counseling Offices offer Medi-Cal, Medicare, and low-cost, sliding scale services in both downtown Santa Cruz 831-423-9444 x200 and in Soquel 831-346-6767 x200.

Shine a Light Counseling Center – Shine a Light provides affordable counseling for couples, individuals, children, and families in English or Spanish in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties

Leslie’s Personal Recommendations
Kara Bowman, Grief Counselor – A sincere and qualified therapist who specializes in grief.. and gets it! (831) 219-8522

Find Supportive Family and Friends – Leslie says she’s truly learned about her NEED for open, honest, authentic people, and she’s found that she can control who she spends time with during this most difficult journey her life is now on.

Exercise and Self Care – Leslie says it has never has been more important to be conscious about this!

Contact Guests
Leslie Nielsen

Carly Memoli, Program Manager
Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast
Email:, Phone: 831-459-9373 ext. 1



RESPONDING TO A GENERATION IN CRISIS– Rates of depression and suicide in youth have skyrocketed since the pandemic. A new program seeks to break the stigma of seeking help for youth suffering from depression and anxiety and other mental conditions. The idea is to intervene early before things get to the crisis stage so that youth can weather the storms of life with more resilience. In this interview I talk with Shawn Peterson, director of Community Connection in Santa Cruz County. To get involved, call the Volunteer Center at 831-428-6977. KSQD’s “Talk of the Bay” radio program and podcast | Hosted by Rachel Anne Goodman | Nov. 5, 2021