Living Works sets June walk

Former NFL football player Keith O’Neil

PRINCETON — As Living Works Suicide Prevention group revs up for their sixth annual awareness walk June 7, Director Chris Compton is looking back on the progress and achievements made along the way since the group’s formation in 2008.

Living Works is a non-profit organization, which works to create awareness and prevention of suicide though enlightenment, education and information. The organization was first supported through Compton’s son, Brandon Compton, with memorial monies after his death by suicide on Oct. 9, 2006.

The first Living Works walk kicked-off in 2009, with intentions of raising money to help fund the organizations mission at a time when the area’s suicide rate grew among the youth.

“I feel our biggest accomplishment was that we’ve helped to eliminate the taboo of using the word ‘suicide,’” Compton said. “People are now looking at suicide as a disease and are not uncomfortable talking about it.”

Through the years, Living Works has started up training sessions and workshops known as Suicide Talk, Safe Talk and Assist Training, all geared to provide a support system for family and families who have lost a loved one to suicide and a tool to those in need of prevention assistance.

“I honestly feel God wanted this for our community. He knew the need and connected the right people at the right time in the right place,” Compton said. “The growth and accomplishments (of Living Works) has far exceeded any expectations I had.”

Living Works has been the area’s resource to help those in need. The organization created a website (www.livingworkssuicidewalk.com) and Facebook page where people can visit and ask for help or learn ways to recognize the signs of suicide.

With its sixth year walk on the horizon, Compton is happy to announced a big time keynote speaker for this year’s event. Living Works was contacted by former NFL football player Keith O’Neil.

“He speaks about his trials battling mental illness and suicidal thoughts. I believe this is truly a blessing and an opportunity for our community to come together to hear his story,” Compton said.

O’Neil has played for the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants. He served as a team captain and member of the Colts Super Bowl XLI Championship team. O’Neil played in the NFL with undiagnosed mental illness and bipolar disorder.

He is going public about his experiences hoping to inspire those with similar challenges.

“With the proper diagnosis, medical attention and determination, anyone can achieve anything,” he stated in a press release. “If I can make it in the high stress environment of playing in the NFL with bipolar disorder, anything is possible.”

Looking ahead in the long term future of Living Works, Compton aims to help raise or attract monies for local mental health facilities.

“We need to bring in more resources and offer more economical and quality assessments to those in need and educate more people on suicide awareness and preventive training,” she said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.