Bauer Fund Highlighted as Suicide Continues to Stalk America

New York, N.Y. My beloved mother committed suicide. My good friend’s son Grant Bauer committed suicide. Celebrities commit suicide. There is an epidemic stalking America that snuffs out lives young and old, rich and poor, famous and not. None of us or our families are completely immune.

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American celebrity chef, author, and television personality Anthony Bourdain took his own life in a hotel room in France.

On average, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014, from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years. In 2015, suicide was the seventh leading cause of death for males and the 14th leading cause of death for females.

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American fashion designer and business woman Kate Spade dies by suicide at 55.

We don’t like to discuss suicide in America. Fifteen years ago, when my mother Frances Alleman-Luce, a psychologist, starved herself to death in my own home — in front of my own child — I could not bear to share the details of her passing. She told us she could not bear to bury my brother, then dying of cancer.

Mom

I spoke about the stigma of suicide with Barbara Stanley, Ph.D., who is a Professor of Medical Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University and Director of the Suicide Prevention, Implementation and Evaluation Program at New York State Psychiatric Institute. She told me:

Unfortunately, suicide is a growing problem in the U.S. and worldwide. The rate has steadily increased over the past ten years and more than 40,000 individuals died by suicide in 2013.

In fact, of the major leading causes of death in the U.S., suicide is the only one that has increased in its rate. Yet, suicide is still not discussed and the death of a relative by suicide is often hidden or unacknowledged.

Family members who have had a loved one die by suicide will skirt the issue when someone asks, “How did your brother/father/daughter die?” Why the acknowledgement of suicide is so difficult is complex.

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Author with his mother Frances Alleman-Luce in the 1980’s on Martha’s Vineyard. Photo: The Stewardship Report.

I asked Barbara why we as a society struggle so with suicide. She said:

It remains extraordinarily painful to know that someone you love took his own life. Feelings of guilt, sadness and anger persist long after the death. Also, importantly, suicide, as with all mental illness, is stigmatized.

There remains a great deal of shame associated with suicide. But it is vital to work to destigmatize suicide so that suicidal individuals can feel more comfortable to reach out for help and so that families and friends who have lost someone to suicide do not have to endure the pain of the death alone.

There are plenty of examples where silence about a problem is broken that in turn led to greater funding for research, more support for those affected by the problem and the gradual development of a more humane response to the affected individuals.

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Robin Williams, American actor and comedian, was found dead by suicide in 2014.

In 2015, Dr. Bill Bauer, vice president of The J. Luce Foundation, announced the creation of the foundation’s Bauer Fund in memory of his 25-year-old son who died by suicide in Ohio. The Bauer Fund claimassist those living with mental illness, including young adults who might be prone to suicide. “My family is delighted to inform our first three beneficiaries that we are honoring them with grants in honor and memory of our son Grant who passed away from suicide in 2014,” Bill stated.

Grant had just turned 25 and, in the minds of his family, had his whole life ahead of him. He loved reading, swimming, and music and had the ability to make people laugh. His smile was infectious. Grant would not want his friends and family to continue to ask “Why” but instead to ask “How?” How can we help? How can we make a difference?

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Grant Bauer, son of Dr. Bill and Mary Ella Bauer and brother to Maddie Bauer.
Photo courtesy of the Bauer Family.

The Bauer Fund is one of the foundation’s many initiatives to create a better humanity and world. The awards have been announced on the anniversary of Grant’s passing, September 5. The grants are to be used for promotion, prevention and/or research in the areas of suicide awareness and prevention, mental health issues, and or program development for people with intellectual disabilities.

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Fountain House, recipient of the Bauer Fund’s 2016 inaugural award, developed the first successful working community to address the devastating social impact of mental illness. It was founded on the premise that people living with mental illness are active participants in their recovery. Each year, over 1,300 members come to Fountain House to contribute their talents, learn new skills, access opportunities, and to make new friendships.

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living with mental illness. Photo: Courtesy Fountain House.

Last year the Fountain House Symposium and Luncheon took on a formidable subject. Titled “Suicide: Looking for Answers,” the event recently drew more than 500 attendees to The Pierre in support of its innovative mental health programs. In light of recent reports that suicide in the U.S. has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, the symposium’s focus was timely. Suicide tragically ends the lives of more than 40,000 Americans each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with mental illness account for the overwhelming majority of deaths by suicide.

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Fountain House President Kenn Dudek said, “Suicide is a preventable tragedy. Our programs give people with serious mental illness a reason for living. Every day, hundreds of members – people living with serious mental illness – choose to come to Fountain House to contribute their talents, learn new skills, access opportunities, and forge friendships.”

SLIDER

Tax-deductible contributions may be made to The Bauer Fund online here (http://tinyurl.com/k7qa4wj). Please note “Bauer Fund.” Checks may be made payable to the J. Luce Foundation, memo’d “Bauer Fund,” and mailed to 540 Main Street #418, New York, N.Y. 10044.

See Also
The Bauer Fund of the James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation (Facebook)
In Memoriam: Frances D. Alleman-Luce, 1924 – 2001
Impacted by Suicide, Our Foundation Opens Fund to Help
Fountain House Symposium Looks for Answers to Suicide
Following Son’s Suicide, The Bauer Fund Announces Award Recipients

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About Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens

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Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce (www.lucefoundation.org) writes and speaks on Thought Leaders and Global Citizens. Bringing 26 years management experience within both investment banking and the non-profit sector, Jim has worked for Daiwa Bank, Merrill Lynch, a spin-off of Lazard Freres, and two not-for profit organizations and a foundation he founded. As Founder & CEO of Orphans International Worldwide (www.oiww.org), he is working with a strong network of committed professionals to build interfaith, interracial, Internet-connected orphanages in Haiti and Indonesia, and creating a new, family-care model for orphans in Sri Lanka and Tanzania.