Suicide and Mental Illness Close to Home in Wyoming

Kelsey Rose Wilson

Last week a Laramie Boomerang obituary page included a teen’s face.

Kelsey Wilson was a 16-year-old student at Laramie High School.

While I didn’t know her, what my untrained eyes see in her photo is a young woman who was well loved in life.

And what pain she felt in that life, I can only imagine.

Alongside the shock of her age, the obituary contained a raw plea.

“Suicide and depression are difficult topics to discuss, and the family hopes you will talk with your loved ones to help bring it into the light and reduce the stigma surrounding it.

“The family asks you write your legislators and representatives in Congress to push for better mental health interventions and suicide prevention services in Wyoming.”

I grieve for Kelsey and for her family.

And my own letter to Representative Liz Cheney has already been sent.

The Tragic Truth

–  31% of teens nationwide have symptoms of depression.

–  Wyoming has the 4th highest suicide rate in the country.

–  In Wyoming, worry about suicide in teens is becoming
the top reported concern.

–  1 out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9–12)
seriously considered suicide in the past year.

–  Teen suicides in Wyoming are rising and are
nearly three times the national average.

The top blue line shows Wyoming’s deaths by suicide per 100,000 for youth aged 15-19. The lower blue line is the national number.

Take Action!

•  Write Representative Liz Cheney.

•  Read Preventing Suicide in Wyoming.

•  Be reminded of good people doing good work in Wyoming:

–  Peace as Learned and Teachable Skills

–  Pain Should Not Be Wasted: The Story of Three Parents

–  Carla Trier Brings Heaps of Love By Way of the Foster Parent Exchange

.   .   .

Ellen is a native of northern Maine. Her interest in getting to know Wyoming focuses on ways people and organizations help and protect individuals, wildlife, beauty, and rights. She is a HeartMath® trainer and coach, a Connection Practice trainer and coach, and a biodynamic craniosacral therapist. Her website is:  EllenSynakowski.com and her email is EllenSynakowski@icloud.com.

“Remember that justice is what love looks like in public.” – Cornel West

Sanctuary Provides Animals Home on the Range

Home on the Range Animal HavenFortunate creatures live out their days at  Home on the Range Animal Haven (HORAH), a sanctuary in Laramie, Wyoming.

Since 2011, abandoned, abused, and those needing care find their way to this southern Wyoming refuge.

Standard donkeys, Webster and Chester, recently arrived when their owner entered a nursing home.

And sharing the same pasture miniature Sicilian donkeys, Caesar and Hercules, entered the scene after being rescued from auction.

Home on the Range in Laramie, WY, sanctuary for animals
Boer goat, Pong, will spend the rest of his life at Home on the Range.

Boer goat, Pong, and his sister, Ping, were raised by a 4-H’er and moved in when the boy hadn’t the heart to take them to market.

In all, 46 donkeys, horses, goats, cats, sheep, chickens and turkeys roam the 67-acre animal haven.

“When animals come here, they stay for the rest of their lives”

Sanctuary for Life

Since its inception, healing humans and animals has been at the core of this nonprofit’s work.

Its mission includes supporting “companion animal’s wellbeing and the human interaction with them.”

This is done while providing “sanctuary, assistance, emotional and physical rehabilitation and education . . .”

“Justice for animals means giving them respect and understanding with concern for their emotional and physical well being.”
— Deb Roberts

Deb Roberts founded Home on the Range and is its executive director.

“When animals come here, they stay for the rest of their lives,” she said.

“We don’t adopt them out because each one has already been passed around enough.”

Frequent visitors to the ranch include students from organizations such as Upward Bound, the Cathedral School, Cowboy Challenge, and the Open School.

Children help out by grooming and petting animals while older volunteers pitch in where needed around the property.

“The interactions are as good for the animals as they are for the people,” Deb said.

Her vision for the sanctuary is simple, “I do it because I love animals.”

And from what I saw, the feelings are mutual.

Home on the Range in Laramie, WY, sanctuary for animals
Deb Roberts, founder and executive director of Home on the Range Animal Haven in Laramie, Wyoming with Secilian donkey, Caesar.

Take Action!

•  Donate to Home on the Range.

•  Purchase raffle tickets for this year’s Home on the Range fund raiser.

•  Follow Home on the Range on facebook.

•  Check out Deb Roberts’ business, Hydro Hound, also focused on animals with water exercise and therapeutic massage for dogs.

Previous posts of interest:

•  Disconnect Between Animal Protection Laws and Economic Benefits of Keeping Animals Alive a Focus for Wyoming Untrapped

•  Part 1:  Why I care: Witnessing Childhood Injustices (part 1 )

•  and Part 2: Witnessing Childhood Injustices

•  •  •

Ellen Synakowski lives in Laramie, Wyoming.
Her website is EllenSynakowski.com

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.1  — C. West

Climb Wyoming Breaking Multi-Generational Single Mom Cycle of Poverty

In a state like Wyoming where poverty is pervasive19 and often invisible,20 permanently interrupting the multi-generational cycle of impoverishment for single moms is a big goal.

Yet one woman at a time the chain is being broken at Climb Wyoming.

Reaching the top of the stairs in the Laramie office, I could have been entering an urban law firm or a boutique medical suite.

“Poverty can inhibit executive function, so by providing resources, counseling, life and communication skills, our moms are supported in becoming successful.” — Katie Hogarty

“The setting is intentional,” said Katie Hogarty, Climb Wyoming program director and lawyer by training.

“We want our space to mirror the environment our moms will be working in.”

Twice a year groups of women move together through the program, and on average 130 will graduate from six sites throughout the state.

“So much magic happens when the women are together,” Katie said.

“Poverty can inhibit executive function,21, 22 so by providing resources, counseling, life and communication skills, our moms are supported in becoming successful.”

“People can say, ‘Just put one foot in front of the other,’ but if you’re not practiced at knowing your priorities and how to get form a to b to c, you feel stuck — you’re just spinning.”

Katie Hogarty, Climb Wyoming program director in Laramie.

Remarkably, graduates typically double their pre-program wages, and the up-front investment yields tangible savings for the state of Wyoming.

And the business model of lean site offices supported by experts at the headquarters in Cheyenne permits Katie to stay focused on what she loves.

“I just want to be working with these moms,” she said.

———–

Take Action!

•  Watch a short Climb Wyoming video intended for the women they serve. “This is a judgment-free zone.” “You’re amazing, mom.” “You already have your gifts inside of you.”

 •  Donate to Climb Wyoming

•  Read about Hole Food Rescue in Jackson and community and school gardens supported by Rooted in Wyoming in Sheridan.

• Check out Columbia University’s statistics on Wyoming at the National Center for Children in Poverty


•  •  •


Ellen Synakowski lives in Laramie, Wyoming.
Her website is EllenSynakowski.com

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.1  — C. West

Sweet Melissa Vegetarian Café in Laramie: Few Plastic Straws and No Animals Sacrificed

Sweet Melissa vegetarian cafeIn 1999 Melissa Murphy didn’t know if a Wyoming vegetarian restaurant would last.

Nineteen years later on a family visit to Laramie, the first, second and even third food recommendations we solicited unanimously pointed to Sweet Melissa.

“And I’m not even a vegetarian! . . .” punctuated each endorsement.

Researchers at Carnegie Melon University found that eliminating meat one day a week has the same effect on greenhouse gas emissions as cutting 1,000 miles of driving a year.5

Vegetarian and no straws – environmental act

“A vegetarian restaurant is an environmental act,” Melissa said.

And in a similar way, so are her recent efforts to reduce plastic straws and water use.

One straw at a time, Melissa is cutting back on the 500 million plastic straws used and discarded each day in the United States.

Yet weaning café customers and staff off plastic straws has been a three-year process, she noted.*

Still, one straw at a time, Melissa is cutting back on the 500 million plastic straws used and discarded each day in the United States. 6

Other environmental acts at Sweet Melissa include a commitment to recycling that began in 1999.

Additionally, they participate in composting through the Acres Student Farm7 at the University of Wyoming.

And take-out cups and food containers are now corn-based versus petroleum.

When asked to define social justice, Melissa quoted a Unitarian Universalist principle: “The inherent worth and dignity of every person.”

“. . . and animals,” she added.

Melissa Murphy owner of vegetarian restaurant
Sweet Melissa Vegetarian Cafe owner, Melissa Murphy.

 

no straw, thanks!

For more information on plastic straws
please see the blog resource page.

Read about food rescue in Jackson.

*for now plastic straws are used on the Tavern side.


•  •  •


Ellen Synakowski lives in Laramie, Wyoming.
Her website is EllenSynakowski.com


“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.1  Cornell West