Stories are at the heart of suicide prevention project this September

SIOUX FALLS, SD — Thirty powerful stories of resilience in the face of mental health or suicide-related challenges will be shared each day of National Suicide Prevention Month this September as part of the third year of Lost&Found’s 30 Days, 30 Stories project. The theme for 2023 is “Storytelling Is Suicide Prevention.”

“This year, we are focusing on the power of stories to heal, to connect people, and to bring about change,” said Heidi Marttila-Losure, Lost&Found’s Director of Communications. “In our work, we often cite the statistics of suicide in South Dakota, which are dire—for example, 202 people died by suicide in South Dakota in 2021, and it’s the leading cause of death in South Dakota for those ages 10 to 34. But numbers alone typically don’t inspire action. Stories do.”

The story for Sept. 1 features Sam Houser, a reverend who survived assault and has found treatments that help to address the trauma. Click on the image to see Houser’s story.

The project, which is sponsored by a grant from the South Dakota Humanities Council, begins on September 1. Each story will be released on as well as on Lost&Found’s social media platforms and includes a written story, photos of the storyteller, and a video. Storytellers speak about their own experiences, what resources helped them, and how they’d like to see the mental health care system or society in general improved to prevent or address situations like theirs.

Storytellers include people from a variety of backgrounds from all over South Dakota, as well as a few from beyond its borders. “We are pleased to have more storytellers from West River this year,” Marttila-Losure said.

Four episodes of Lost&Found’s podcast, Great Minds with Lost&Found, are also scheduled as part of the project.

The first podcast has been published. It’s a conversation between podcast host Joel Kaskinen and Marttila-Losure about the power of stories and how they can improve mental health as well as improve our society.

The remaining three podcasts will be recorded as live events that the public is welcome to attend.

  • September 5: Sharing Stories of Mental Health in the Black Hills, with local student storytellers, 2 p.m. in the Trump Room of the Student Union, Black Hills State University
  • September 11: The Story of Suicide Prevention Action in South Dakota with Erik Muckey and Caleb Weiland, Farber Hall on the University of South Dakota campus. The time is to be announced.
  • Late September: How a Statewide Run is Changing Lives, with runners from the 437 Project, Remedy Brewing. Details to be announced.

Lost&Found has partnered with 4Front Studios in Sioux Falls and NorthStar Productions in Rapid City for the photo and video production of the project.

Lost&Found started the #30Days30Stories project in 2021. These stories have reached an impressive number of people through social media channels and also yielded insights on the empowering possibilities of storytelling.

“We encourage South Dakotans to listen to these storytellers as their stories are released each day,” Marttila-Losure said. “I can almost promise they will affect you and the way you see the world. Gratitude, empathy, and the motivation to change things for the better are possible reactions. That’s the power of stories.”

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