In response to reports of another local youth suicide, communities are called to action by youth empowerment and suicide prevention advocate Shelley Doneghue.

Doneghue, of Olney, has made some recent progress in her mission to proliferate support services for the youth and to arm community members with suicide prevention training.

The mission began in 2014, when Doneghue’s teenage son, Matthew Zwilling, ended his bout with bipolar depression through suicide. Since 2014, numerous suicide attempts by youth and teen and young adult suicides have been reported in Southern Illinois.

Depression among the youth and suicidal ideation are issues which have seemed only to increase in number, Doneghue says, and it is the responsibility of community members to hold themselves accountable for being aware and trained on how to deal with these issues.

Doneghue has held herself accountable by investing in education related to youth empowerment and suicide prevention. She has raised public awareness and has tried to rally local support for her mission. 

In 2016, she launched a local non-profit, The Paper House, and collaborated with a social development volunteer to deliver personal development programs to support youth and adults within local communities.

Doneghue never quit striving to gain more support for the mission, but things seemed to move slowly.

In response to reports of a recent suicide of a local youth, Doneghue has offered funds raised through The Paper House to host a community education for youth and adults.

Doneghue said, “I just spoke to Sherry Slankard, the middle school counselor, and she sent a request to Jeff Yalden, America’s #1 Youth Motivational Speaker.”

Yalden is the founder of The Jeff Yalden Foundation, dedicated to suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

Doneghue reported that Olney Central College may host the Yalden event.

In the meantime, Doneghue will be delivering a Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Awareness and Prevention training at the Master’s Hands in Olney.

Doneghue said, “This one hour class will teach you how to recognize signs exhibited by someone who may be suicidal, how to talk to that person, and how to refer them for help.”

“This training is appropriate for ages twelve and up. Suicide has become an epidemic in our country, and our small community is not immune.”

The training will be held at 1:00 p.m. on February 23. Doors will open at 12:30.

The training is free and open to anyone from Olney and surrounding communities.

To reserve a space in the seminar, contact Master’s Hands in Olney at (618) 838-8677, or contact Shelley Doneghue at: Master’s Hands is located at 1065 W. Main Street in Olney.