By, Joan Schmidt
Michelle Wright suffered a tragedy no parent should endure. His first-born son, Michelle Jr., his pride and joy, died by suicide at age 30.
Michelle Jr. was raised in a loving, Christian family in Monrovia, but was tragically shot five times in the back in 2001. His recovery was long and painful. The horrific experience, and medications prescribed over the years, affected his mind: depression and hearing voices telling him to do evil things. Michelle Sr. tried to get help for his son: called various “hot lines” only to be put on hold, or transferred to a different number, and again put on hold.
When Michelle Sr. was in Hawaii, he first received the devastating news that his son attempted to take his own life and was not expected to live. He was heartbroken and angry. For six years, Michelle did everything to help his son heal physically and mentally.
After his son’s untimely death, Michelle began the challenge to do something. No other parent should suffer the pain he and his family endured.
Ten years ago, Ulisses Gutierrez began helping others with “Healing Connections,” a nonprofit began after a five-year increase in teen suicide. Wright reached out to Healing Connections.
Wright then rejoined the Monrovia, Arcadia, Duarte Town Council in 2019. His pastor advised him that Suicide Prevention should be his goal while on the council. He would be a conduit to spread the word of the various resources.
Wright held a “Choose to Live Event” and submitted the Suicide Prevention Resource phone numbers to the county for publication in the county handbook. Twice he was promised the info would go in, but it didn’t.
After the Town Council met with Supervisor Kathyrn Barger, she assured Michelle the Suicide Prevention info would be in the handbook.
To get this information to the public, Barger suggested contacting various Church Ministries, who would share it with their Congregations. Wright’s first task was to speak at the Monrovia Ministerial Association’s monthly meeting. (They formed to seek the welfare of Monrovia, actively pray on its behalf, and seek unity and peace in the community).
Pastor Father Neil Tadken, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, hosted. Attendees included Pastor Chris Bourne, Second Baptist Church; Dave Hall, All Nations Seventh Day Adventist Church; Roy Tucker; Wendy Stephens; Sheree Johnson; Karen Mastrogiovanni, Oasis of the Valley; Ernest Torres, BKF; First Evangelical Church and a few others
Wright told of his tragedy and has shared these helpful resources:
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: (Didi Hirsch 24/7) 800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line: (24/7) Text LA to 741741
- Teen Line: 310-855-4673 (6pm-10pm daily) or Text TEEN to 839863 (6pm-9pm)
- The Trevor Project for LGBTQ Youth: (24/7) 1-866-7386 or Text 678678.
- Didi Hirsch Survivors of Suicide Attempts Groups (SOSA): 424-362-2901
- Didi Hirsch Survivors After Suicide Groups (SAS) 424-2912 for adults and 424-362-2911 for teens.
- LA County Dept. of Mental Health Help Line: 1-800-854-7771
- LA County Community Resource Info Line: 2-1-1
We are in this together. Everyone plays a role in suicide prevention.