voices in the family

Suicide: “Finding the Light Within”



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November 7, 2011 — A Philadelphia mural in progress called Finding the Light Within sheds light on youth suicide. Images of those touched by this serious issue shape a community around the topic. Meanwhile, recent writing workshops by First Person Arts have given voice to suicide survivors, friends, and family.

Dr. Dan Gottlieb draws from the positive and creative spirit of these two powerful local projects while exploring the difficult and painful topic of suicide. We discuss the void left behind in families as well as risk factors, prevention, healing and support, education, and community building. Our guests include individuals who have strong ties to the Mural Arts and First Person Arts suicide awareness projects: James Burns, Jonathan Singer, Terri Erbacher, and Clara Williams.

James Burns is an artist with Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program. He designed the mural in progress Finding the Light Within, intended to educate the public about warning signs of suicidal behavior and how to seek help for loved ones before there is a loss of life.

Jonathan Singer, Ph.D., LCSW, is an assistant professor of social work at Temple University. After brainstorming with Burns, he created a website where people can share, anonymously, stories about surviving the loss of a loved one to suicide, or helping someone through a suicidal crisis.

Terri Erbacher, Ph.D, works as a school psychologist for the Delaware County Intermediate Unit and is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is Chapter President of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and is on the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania State Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative. Her essay will be featured at an upcoming First Person Arts event which showcases stories that served as inspiration for Burns’s mural.

Clara Williams lives in Philadelphia. She, too, contributed an essay for First Person Arts.

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

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