Month: January 2024

Five mental health insights from Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the wealth of wisdom that Martin Luther King, Jr. shared throughout his life, we can find few words that address mental health directly. The circumstances of his life, however, provide insights about mental health, resilience, and suicide prevention. An article titled “What Martin Luther King, Jr. Knew But Never Said” by Dr. Kathleen M. Pike from the Columbia University Global Mental Health Programs highlights five key insights:

  1. MLK attempted suicide twice in his youth. The fact that he did not die in those attempts shows the importance of limiting access to lethal means—had he had access to more lethal means during his times of suicidal ideation, he might not have grown up to change the world.
  2. Although MLK was never officially diagnosed with depression, historians agree he suffered from it. Considering the stress and trauma he endured in his life, this is not surprising, as both increase the risk of depression.
  3. MLK tried to keep his depression from being known publicly, as he worried that it would affect his ability to lead and advance the cause of civil rights. Although the stigma around mental health has lessened in recent years, it still keeps people from acknowledging concerns or seeking help.
  4. Systemic issues such as racism and discrimination affect mental health, which was true in MLK’s time and remains a factor today. “Reports from the US Office of Minority Health indicate that Black American adults are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than White adults,” Dr. Pike writes.
  5. Mental illness was a part of MLK’s meaningful, successful life. This can be true for many successful people—struggles with mental health can affect anyone, no matter how accomplished that person might be.

Read more about each of these five insights in the full article: What Martin Luther King, Jr. Knew But Never Said – Columbia University Global Mental Health Programs (

Postvention plans are a vital step toward suicide prevention and support

Dakotah Jordan

When a suicide happens on a college campus, at a workplace, or in a community, the leaders in that space need a postvention plan. 

Postvention focuses on containing the crisis after a suicide occurs, providing care, and avoiding contagion – multiple suicides happening in succession.

Dakotah Jordan, Lost&Found’s Education & Advocacy Manager, says that in recent years, the concept of postvention has emerged as a crucial aspect of suicide prevention. 

Lost&Found has developed a practical postvention guide with extensively researched checklists for workplaces, K-12, and college spaces. The goal is to equip institutions with actionable plans, ensuring effective responses during a crisis.



The Three Key Components of the Postvention Guide:

Campus Postvention Best Practices Guide cover

  • Planning:
    • For institutions that want to be proactive about how to respond to a suicide, organizations that have experienced a suicide death and are past the initial crisis, or those that need to update their policies, the guide outlines a comprehensive planning process.
    • Addressing the policy and protocol updates needed, even in non-crisis situations, ensures preparedness for potential future incidents.
  • Crisis Response:
    • In the immediate aftermath of a suicide, the guide provides a clear roadmap for action. It includes essential first steps, detailing whom to contact and what actions to take right away.
    • This crisis-focused section is crucial for institutions facing a suicide without pre-existing policies.
  • Evaluation:
    • The guide emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement. Whether an institution has experienced a recent suicide or not, evaluation is vital.
    • Evaluating existing policies and procedures allows institutions to identify gaps, improve support systems, and update documents for a more comprehensive and effective plan.


Funding and Focus on College Campuses:

Lost&Found secured funding through the state of South Dakota to address the higher suicide rates on college campuses in the state. Recognizing suicide as the leading cause of death for young people in South Dakota, Lost&Found prioritizes supporting students, faculty, and staff.


Expanding Beyond Suicide:

The postvention guide extends its relevance beyond suicide deaths. Recognizing that any death can have a profound impact on a community, the guide encourages schools to integrate it into their emergency action and management plans. By doing so, institutions ensure a timely and compassionate response to any loss, acknowledging that grief affects individuals regardless of the cause of death.


The Ultimate Goal:

Lost&Found’s ultimate goal is to collaborate with schools, especially college campuses in South Dakota, to update their postvention policies and procedures. The aim is to create well-rounded plans that not only address suicide but also provide comprehensive support for any death. Lost&Found envisions a statewide implementation of postvention plans, fostering supportive environments where schools are prepared to handle crises with empathy and efficiency.

Having a well-defined postvention plan is not just about reacting to a crisis; it’s about proactively creating a compassionate and comprehensive support system. 

Lost&Found’s guide serves as a valuable resource, empowering institutions to navigate the complexities of loss, ensuring that everyone affected receives the care and resources they need.

For more information about how the Lost&Found’s postvention plan can help your organization, visit the Campus & Community Postvention page on our website