Brittany Rebecca Helton


White House Message for Survivors of Suicide Day

by on Dec.03, 2010, under Publications

White House Issues Presidential Message in Support of National Survivors of Suicide Day and Suicide Prevention Efforts Nationwide

AFSP is deeply gratified to have received from the White House a special message supporting National Survivors of Suicide Day, acknowledging the pain and tragedy of suicide loss, and recognizing the efforts of those who are working to prevent suicide throughout the nation.  
to read the
President’s message

Citing the critical importance of identifying and helping those at risk, the President pledged his Administration’s support for mental health screening and treatment for service members and veterans, and efforts to reach vulnerable youth, including those who may have been the victims of bullying.

AFSP remains committed to making suicide prevention a national priority, and is grateful to the Administration for its recognition of this important public health issue.

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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Suicide

by on Sep.22, 2010, under Publications

Many of these questions come from young teens struggling to understand the suicide attempts of friends, and trying to learn how they can help. (These questions were taken from the website)

  1. What percentage of college students who kill themselves are male? Why do you think more/ less boys than girls kill themselves?
    Seventy-five to 80 percent are boys although more girls attempt suicide. Boys are more involved than girls in all forms of aggressive and violent behavior.
  2. I’ve heard that suicides are more frequent around the holidays? Is this true, and if so, how much do they increase at that time?
    Suicides are not more frequent during the holidays. It appears that the rates are the highest in April, and the summer months, June and July.
  3. It is often said that a suicidal person goes through a period where he seeks for help from other people. Does this then mean that it could be ultimately the fault of other people (because they don’t appear concerned enough) that one decides to kill him/herself?
    Not a fair conclusion, although it could be a contributing factor in some cases particularly with elderly, terminally ill people.
  4. What is the biggest cause of suicide among college students?
    Ninety-five percent are suffering from mental illness, usually depression. If depressed, substance abuse, anxiety, impulsivity, rage, hopelessness and desperation increase the risk.
  5. Apart from talking to a suicidal person and encouraging him/her to go for counseling, what else can we do to prevent this?
    Going with someone to the counselor often helps. If the person won’t listen to you, you may need to talk to someone who might influence him or her. Saving a life is more important than violating a confidence.
  6. People often get uncomfortable when one discloses something as intimate and frightening as suicidal thoughts. What do you think can be done to reduce this stigma, either of suicidal people, or of depressive patients? Can people actually “change” their minds and accept someone who is suicidal?
    As people recognize that suicidal behavior is the result of a medical condition not a sign of weakness or character defect it will change.
  7. What is the most frequent method of suicide? Is the most frequent method different for men and women?
    Fifty-two percent of all people who kill themselves do so with a firearm, accounting for almost 17,000 deaths each year in the U.S. Use of a firearm is the number one method in those aged 35 and up.
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AFSP-Funded Study Links Depression, Lack of Support, to College Student Suicide

by on Sep.22, 2010, under Publications

Depression and the feeling of a lack of support appear to be correlated with suicidal thoughts and behavior in some college students, according to research from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, the University of Maryland and other institutions.

The study, funded by AFSP and the National Institutes of Health, and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, followed more than a thousand students throughout their college years, identifying factors linked to suicidal thinking and highlighting the importance of spotting high-risk students early on and referring them for treatment.

Of the 1,085 students, 151 (12 percent) said they had pondered committing suicide at least once, 37 of whom (24.5 percent) said they did so repeatedly. Ten of the 151 said they made specific plans or carried out full-fledged attempts during college. Two of the 10 said they attempted suicide without ever planning to do so. Of the 151, 17 students reported attempting suicide before college, and 22 reported planning a suicide before college but not attempting it.

Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among college-age students in the United States, with some 1,100 deaths each year.

The study also showed that students who reported thinking repeatedly about suicide were no more likely to attempt it than those who did so only once. This surprising finding suggests that mental health professionals cannot assume that those who think about suicide more often are at a higher risk, nor are those who have a single suicidal thought necessarily safer than those who ponder suicide repeatedly.

“The results emphasize the need for an anonymous, web-based outreach to all college students, like our Interactive Screening Program,” AFSP Medical Director Dr. Paula Clayton said. “Students need be properly screened for the risk factors that can lead to suicide, and then engaged in coming in for an assessment.”

For additional information on this study, please contact Dr. Amelia Arria at

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Support Groups for Suicide Survivors

by on Sep.07, 2010, under Publications

Support Groups

It can be so powerful to connect with other survivors. And such a relief to be able to talk openly about suicide with people who really understand.

For so many survivors, a crucial part of their healing process is the support and sense of connection they feel through sharing their grief with other survivors. The most common way this sharing occurs is through survivor support groups. These groups provide a safe place where survivors can share their experiences and support each other.

It is natural to feel a bit unsure about going to your first support group meeting. In No Time to Say Goodbye (see Bibliography), one facilitator explains what you can expect:

“We sit in a circle, with each person giving a brief introduction: first name, who was lost, when it was, and how it happened. I then ask the people who are attending for the first time to begin, because they usually have an urgent need to talk. The rest of the group reaches out to them by describing their own experiences and how they are feeling. The new people realize they are not alone with their nightmare. By comparing their situations with others, they also begin to understand that they don’t have a monopoly on pain.”

Some survivors attend a support group almost immediately, some wait for years; others attend for a year or two and then go only occasionally — on anniversaries, holidays, or particularly difficult days. You may find that it takes a few meetings before you begin to feel comfortable. Or, you may find that the group setting isn’t quite right for you, but can still be a useful way to meet one or two fellow survivors who become new, lifelong friends based on the common bond of understanding the pain and tragedy of suicide loss..

Excerpt from AFSP: Support Groups.

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Coping with Suicide

by on Sep.07, 2010, under Publications

Coping with Suicide Loss

“One learns to live with the loss, the tragedy, the waste, and the gaping hole in the fabric of one’s life. There is no closure, nor would I want one. I want to remember him all my life, vividly: his laughter, the smell of his sneakers under his bed, his moments of joy, his humility, and his integrity.”

If you have lost someone to suicide, the first thing you should know is that you are not alone. Each year over 33,000 people in the United States die by suicide — the devastated family and friends they leave behind are known as “survivors.” There are millions of survivors who, like you, are trying to cope with this heartbreaking loss.

Survivors often experience a wide range of grief reactions, including some or all of the following:

  • Shock is a common immediate reaction. You may feel numb or disoriented, and may have trouble concentrating.
  • Symptoms of depression, including disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, intense sadness, and lack of energy.
  • Anger towards the deceased, another family member, a therapist, or yourself.
  • Relief, particularly if the suicide followed a long and difficult mental illness.
  • Guilt, including thinking, “If only I had….”
  • These feelings usually diminish over time, as you develop your ability to cope and begin to heal.

What Do I Do Now?

  • Some survivors struggle with what to tell other people. Although you should make whatever decision feels right to you, most survivors have found it best to simply acknowledge that their loved one died by suicide.
  • You may find that it helps to reach out to family and friends. Because some people may not know what to say, you may need to take the initiative to talk about the suicide, share your feelings, and ask for their help.
  • Even though it may seem difficult, maintaining contact with other people is especially important during the stress-filled months after a loved one’s suicide.
  • Keep in mind that each person grieves in his or her own way. Some people visit the cemetery weekly; others find it too painful to go at all.
  • Each person also grieves at his or her own pace; there is no set rhythm or timeline for healing.
  • Anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays may be especially difficult, so you might want to think about whether to continue old traditions or create some new ones. You may also experience unexpected waves of sadness; these are a normal part of the grieving process.
  • Children experience many of the feelings of adult grief, and are particularly vulnerable to feeling abandoned and guilty. Reassure them that the death was not their fault. Listen to their questions, and try to offer honest, straightforward, age-appropriate answers.
  • Some survivors find comfort in community, religious, or spiritual activities, including talking to a trusted member of the clergy.
  • Be kind to yourself. When you feel ready, begin to go on with your life. Eventually starting to enjoy life again is not a betrayal of your loved one, but rather a sign that you’ve begun to heal.

Excerpted from Surviving Suicide Loss: A Resource and Healing Guide.

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Surviving Suicide Loss

by on Sep.03, 2010, under Publications

A Message to Survivors

We encourage survivors to gather, to remember, to speak aloud the precious names of those lost to suicide. You are in a safe place with those who understand.

If you are very new to the tragedy of suicide loss, despair may be your companion. We hope you find some time to rest your burden and share it with those of us who need no explanation.

There is no map on this path to becoming whole. It is the most painful of journeys — full of twists and turns, bruised hearts and misunderstandings. Small wonders appear on this path but we may be too sore or fragile to recognize them. But there will be a day when you can look back and know that they were there.

We share your loneliness. We share your sorrow. We share your questions. We honor those we love who have been lost to suicide. May the radiance and beauty of their lives never be defined by their deaths.

Survivors are the most courageous people we know. Be well, be peaceful, be hopeful.

Excerpt from AFSP: Surviving Suicide Loss.

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Facts About Suicide

by on Aug.26, 2010, under Publications

Please read these… you may be able to help someone save their own life:

Suicide Facts

  • Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year.
  • Many who attempt suicide never seek professional care.
  • There are twice as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS.
  • Between 1952 and 1995, suicide in young adults nearly tripled.
  • Over half of all suicides occur in adult men, ages 25-65.
  • In the month prior to their suicide, 75% of elderly persons had visited a physician.
  • Suicide rates in the United States are highest in the spring.
  • Over half of all suicides are completed with a firearm.
  • For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the third leading cause of death.
  • Suicide rates among the elderly are highest for those who are divorced or widowed.
  • 80% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully.
  • 15% of those who are clinically depressed die by suicide.
  • There are an estimated 8 to 25 attempted suicides to 1 completion.
  • The highest suicide rate is among men over 85 years old: 65 per 100,000 persons.
  • 1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 commit suicide each year.
  • Substance abuse is a risk factor for suicide.
  • The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression.
  • By 2010, depression will be the #1 disability in the world. (World Health Organization)
  • In 2004, 32,439 people died by suicide. (CDC)
  • Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. (homicide is 15th). (CDC)
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-old Americans. (CDC)
  • It is estimated that there are at least 4.5 million survivors in this country. (AAS)
  • An average of one person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes. (CDC, AAS)
  • There are four male suicides for every female suicide. (CDC, AAS)
  • Research has shown medications and therapy to be effective suicide prevention.
  • Suicide can be prevented through education and public awareness.
  • Last year SAVE educated 10,618 youth & parents on depression and suicide prevention.
  • Last year SAVE received 810 requests for information from 72 countries.
  • In 2004 it is estimated there were 811,000 suicide attempts in the US. (AAS)
  • There are three female suicide attempts for each male attempt. (CDC, AAS)
  • According to the Violent Death Reporting System, in 2004 73% of suicides also tested positive for at least one substance (alcohol, cocaine, heroin or marijuana).

Excerpt from SAVE | Suicide Facts.

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Obituary – Las Vegas, NV

by on Aug.16, 2010, under Publications

This is the TRUE and ACCURATE obituary of Brittany Rebecca Helton, as she lived and as she passed. The obituary that has been listed in any other newspaper is not factual and is full of false statements by Brittany’s stepmother.

Brittany Rebecca Helton, 19, a student, of Muncy, Pa., passed away Aug. 4, 2010. She was born July 3, 1991, in Las Vegas. Brittany graduated from Muncy H.S. in 2009, where she was on the National Honor Roll and a member of the Key Club. She attended Lycoming College, where she was on the Dean’s List. She was a loving sister, daughter, granddaughter and friend. Brittany is survived by her mother and stepfather, Stacey L. Ackermann and Troy A. Ackermann, both of Las Vegas; sister and brother-in-law, Ashley and Jeff Lamb of Twentynine Palms, Calif.; sisters, Sheridan and Tristann Ackermann of Las Vegas; and grandparents, Mike and Sue White of Las Vegas. Funeral services were held in Montoursville, Pa., at Spitler Funeral Home.

As published in the Las Vegas Review Journal.

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