In this conversation, Cody Ingle shares his perspective on suicide prevention from the lens of someone who has working in the LGBTQ+ space and identifies as a gay man. We break down social structures and chat about systems that impact the queer community and how that leads to increased risk of suicide.
To learn more about suicide risk and impact on the LGBTQ+ community, check out the following link from the Trevor Project – trevor01_2022survey_final.pdf.
To learn more about the work that Lost&Found is doing to prevent suicide among youth and young adults, go to resilienttoday.org. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube (@resilienttoday).
Survivors Joining for Hope’s work supporting suicide loss survivors will become a department of Lost&Found
Survivors Joining for Hope, a nonprofit that provides financial support to families that have suffered a suicide loss, will cease to be an independent organization on August 1, but its work and its name will continue as a department of the suicide prevention organization Lost&Found.
The board of Survivors Joining for Hope (SJ4H) voted on June 20 to dissolve the organization and pass its assets, as well as its mission and programming, to Lost&Found.
Board members of SJ4H, which has been run entirely by volunteers, see the integration with Lost&Found as a way for SJ4H to have a bigger impact and get closer to reaching its potential.
“Survivors Joining for Hope is tremendously excited at the opportunity to unite with Lost&Found,” said SJ4H Founder and Executive Director Brad Hearst. “Alliance of the two organizations brings the opportunity to support a larger audience and grow SJ4H’s programming to levels that our present capacity didn’t allow. The mental health community and survivors of suicide loss will now have greater support structure throughout South Dakota.”
Lost&Found sees the addition of SJ4H’s programming as a way to expand its work addressing the scourge of suicide in South Dakota and the surrounding region.
“We have been honored to partner with Brad Hearst and Survivors Joining for Hope (SJ4H) over the past six years to prioritize and support suicide prevention efforts in our community,” said Erik Muckey, Executive Director and CEO of Lost&Found. “The Lost&Found team is energized by the opportunity to join forces and continue the impact of SJ4H and its programs and financial assistance for suicide loss survivors for decades to come.”
Stakeholders from both organizations are working together to shape how SJ4H’s work will continue as part of Lost&Found. These are some of the changes that will be part of the integration:
The name “Survivors Joining for Hope” will continue as the name of Lost&Found’s new postvention services department.
Lost&Found’s mission has been updated to include youth as young as 10 years old (youth as young as 15 had previously been part of its target demographic) and to include suicide postvention as well as prevention services.
SJ4H’s Financial Assistance Program for survivors of suicide loss will continue, prioritizing youth and young adults (ages 10-34) and/or their support networks in South Dakota, starting with the campus partners currently served by Lost&Found.
The Survivors Support & Resource Network will continue.
The new department will work to craft and recommend postvention policies for schools, colleges, and employers.
SJ4H’s Youth Prevention programming will be integrated into Lost&Found’s programming.
The work of highlighting stories of those impacted by suicide loss will continue through blog posts, videos, and podcast content.
The work of the Survivor Support & Resource Network, the development of postvention policies, and the Youth Prevention Program will be done with new staff and community partners. These programs will be rolled out in coming months.
“Our hope is that, through unification with Lost&Found, we will be able to provide direct support to the youth throughout our service area,” Hearst said. “We felt that L&F had the infrastructure and programming to bring both our survivors loss support program and youth program to a new level. The goal will be to bring loss support programming to college-aged students and younger as well as to grow our peer-to-peer support network.”
About Survivors Joining for Hope
Survivors Joining for Hope was founded in 2016 by Brad Hearst of Sioux Falls, S.D., after his brother died by suicide. The name of the organization honors his brother, Sergei Joseph Hearst, through its initials. SJ4H was founded to provide funding to families that had suffered a loss by suicide so they could focus on grief recovery instead of financial pressure.
The board initially had four members; over six years, it grew to 11 members. By 2022, the organization’s initial focus on the Sioux Empire had expanded to cover the entire state of South Dakota and beyond—SJ4H has served people from nearly every state on the East and West Coasts. Its programming also expanded to include a support network, support groups, and suicide prevention programming for youth.
Lost&Found was founded in 2010 by five high school graduates from South Dakota who were motivated to “do more” to prevent suicide. For the first eight or so years, Lost&Found’s work was centered on its campus chapters, which raised awareness of mental health needs and advocated for suicide prevention policies.
The organization has grown significantly in the past four years—from no employees to 15, from a focus on campus chapters to work in three departments (Student Programs, Education & Advocacy, and Evaluation & Research Services), and from three campus chapters to working with 13 post-secondary institutions in South Dakota and Minnesota. More geographical and audience expansion is coming this year.
The organization is headquartered in Sioux Falls and currently serves communities as far west as the Black Hills and as far east as the Twin Cities.
Keloland talked with Lost&Found Executive Director Erik Muckey about the death of DJ Crawley-Smith on Thursday.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Erik Muckey gets to honor his friend every day he goes to work.
But that’s made the last few days harder for Muckey as his longtime friend and co-founder of Lost&Found – Dennis John (DJ) Crawley-Smith – died Monday morning from brain cancer, which was diagnosed in 2016. Crawley-Smith was 30-years-old and had recently married his husband Ben Crawley in August 2021.
“It’s incredibly hard,” Muckey said. “You don’t get into your early 30s thinking you’re going to lose your close friend to cancer. Cancer sucks. That’s the simplest way I can put it.”
Read the rest of the Keloland story here. Read more about Crawley-Smith’s legacy with Lost&Found here.
Dennis John “DJ” Crawley-Smith, who as a high school student was the visionary who developed the ideas and creation of Lost&Found and who led the organization in its early years, died of brain cancer Monday, March 21, at his home in Seattle. He was 30 years old.
“For more than 15 years, I’ve called DJ a friend and partner in this work, and the news of his passing is heartbreaking for me, personally, and our team at Lost&Found,” said Lost&Found Co-Founder and Executive Director Erik Muckey. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his husband, Ben, and his parents, siblings, family, and countless friends throughout the world. DJ has touched many lives and will continue to touch lives well beyond his time here with us.”
Crawley-Smith grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota, and graduated from Mitchell High School in 2010. His work that became Lost&Found started in 2008 as an informal Facebook network with a wish to “do more” to prevent suicide. In a year, that Facebook group grew to more than 3,600 members.
Crawley-Smith wrote about this work in 2020: “(T)he school project that becomes Lost&Found focused heavily on making sure people didn’t feel alone. I would make weekly and monthly tasks for thousands of members to complete. We would litter the high school with sticky notes to brighten our peers’ days, write letters to our mentors and friends to show they matter, you get the idea. At the heart of this project was that we as a community can be better to our neighbors and friends to prevent mental health issues all while attempting to reduce the stigma surrounding it.”
His own lived experience with mental health stigma, as well as stigmatization of the LGBTQ+ community during his teenage years, fueled his motivation to help others at a young age.
He gave presentations about this work at state and national FCCLA conferences. On the way home from the 2010 National FCCLA Conference, where the presentation had been well-received, a conversation about what should happen next led to the idea to start a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention. Crawley-Smith brought together four trusted friends—Matt Bartl, Brittany Levine, Kristina (Debus) Hill, and Erik Muckey—to form the initial Lost&Found Board of Directors with him in September 2010. All five had recently graduated from Mitchell area high schools and were pursuing college degrees that fall.
Crawley-Smith served as the President of the Board of Directors for the organization’s initial four years (2010-2014). He worked alongside Muckey and a handful of friends and classmates to launch the first Lost&Found chapter at the University of South Dakota in 2011. New chapters were formed at South Dakota State University (2012) and Dakota State University (2013) shortly thereafter. In 2014, he handed over the reins of the nonprofit to Muckey, who has led the organization since.
A video of Lost&Found’s history through the organization’s 10-year anniversary in 2020 includes an interview with Crawley-Smith: “We really wanted to help teens and young adults who were suffering from mental health issues and suicide ideologies, and the greater communities, who are struggling so much to discuss topics that, at that point and time and even still now, are incredibly taboo.”
In addition to Lost&Found, Crawley-Smith made a difference in many other ways. As a student at the University of South Dakota, he was a proud brother of Phi Delta Theta, as well as serving as the Vice President of the Student Government Association (2012-2013) and Executive Director of the South Dakota Student Federation (2013-2014). He was a fierce advocate for students and made significant strides to improve student health on campus, including the passage of a campus smoking ban, new sexual assault policies for the South Dakota Board of Regents, and the creation of multiple mental health student awareness programs through Lost&Found.
After graduating from USD in 2014, he joined Susan Wismer’s South Dakota gubernatorial campaign as a Call-Time Manager. Wismer’s campaign was the first ticket for governor and lieutenant governor in South Dakota history to include two women, with Susy Blake joining Wismer on the ballot for Lieutenant Governor.
After the campaign, Crawley-Smith joined the Peace Corps in 2015, serving in Tanzania for nearly two years until an emerging health condition—later diagnosed as brain cancer—brought him back to the United States.
Upon his return stateside, DJ served briefly as a teacher in the Mitchell School District before completing a Master of Arts degree from the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies in 2019. Crawley-Smith then served as a Census Field Supervisor for the US Census Bureau leading into the most recent census (2020). He married his husband, Ben Crawley, on August 6, 2021.
Mourning his death are his husband; his parents, Pat and Veronnica Smith; his siblings, Shea, Emmy, and Andrew; many family members and countless friends.
His work with Lost&Found will live on far beyond his short time on this Earth.
“DJ’s efforts to ‘do more to prevent suicide’ will be one of his greatest legacies, standing ahead of his time and living on for time immemorial,” Muckey said. “We are forever indebted and grateful to DJ for the vision he shared and his courage to pull together friends, family, and community members toward solving one of our country’s greatest challenges.”
Crawley-Smith reflected on this legacy himself in 2020, at the time of Lost&Found’s 10th anniversary: “Ten years ago we were a group of fresh-into-college kids with an idea that we wanted to help people who were like us. We wanted to bring a voice to mental health well-being. Now, Lost&Found is serving communities across the State of South Dakota and only continues to grow. Heck, it even helps me. I recognize that there is a vast spectrum between ‘Lost’ and ‘Found,’ and I don’t think any of us are purely one way or the other. And I think if I am not quite sure where I land, I am probably leaning left of center. But the neat thing about that is I am working on myself. I think it is okay to not always be okay. I also think we should all continue building our abilities to support ourselves and support others.”
Lost&Found is a South Dakota-based 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that aims to do more to eliminate suicide among young adults in the United States. Lost&Found trains advocates, provides evaluation and research services, and connects fragmented mental health systems with relevant, evidence-based information and tools. Much of the organization’s current work is on college and tech school campuses in South Dakota and Minnesota. Lost&Found’s programs and digital content reached more than 2.3 million people in 2021. Learn more at resilienttoday.org.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken has proclaimed September 3, 2020, Lost&Found Day. Here is the text of that proclamation:
Office of the Mayor City of Sioux Falls Proclamation
WHEREAS, the City of Sioux Falls, in the state of South Dakota, is home to several of the region ‘s leading and most innovative mental health organizations, including Lost&Found, a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to reduce suicide risk for young adults ages 14 to 35 with customized, collaborative, and proactive services;
WHEREAS, Lost&Found will celebrate ten years of serving the Sioux Falls region on September 3, 2020, collaborating with local institutions such as the Helpline Center, NAMI South Dakota, Survivors Joining For Hope, AFSP South Dakota, Avera Behaviorial Health, and the Transformation Project to provide mental health resources and training to five regional college campuses, including the University of Sioux Falls and Augustana University;
WHEREAS, the City of Sioux Falls recognizes the rising needs for mental health services in our city, as demonstrated through the recent investment in the new Triage Center, and the ongoing responsibility we have as a city to address the needs of our citizens and to support innovative programs being created in our City;
WHEREAS, Lost&Found’s ten-year anniversary coincides with the beginning of national Suicide Prevention Week, a critical time to reflect on the impact suicide has had on the Sioux Falls community as well as the state of South Dakota, as well as recognize and support leadership in our community addressing the scourge of suicide;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Paul TenHaken, Mayor of the City of Sioux Falls, do hereby proclaim September 3, 2020, as:
in Sioux Falls.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City of Sioux Falls to be affixed this 3rd day of September, 2020: