A calling to heal
“I’ve been called to help heal the broken-hearted and bring restoration,” claims Lorraine Mitchell.
And that is exactly what she is doing today. Four years ago she started Suicide Survivors in Edenvale with her focus on empowering the public to be suicide alert and to know where to find support.
Lorraine describes her journey as follows:
“I am a 46 year old single parent of a 12-year-old boy, Ryan. I am passionate about people and their emotional and psychological wellbeing. I am driven by my faith and always endeavour to remain firmly grounded in my relationship with the Lord.
“I qualified as a Social Worker in 1996 and have been working in the field since then. I first worked for Johannesburg Child Welfare Society (JCWS) in the Child and Family Unit, initially working in the field and later as Supervisor for the Unit. While working for JCWS, I completed two-years of tutored studies for a Masters in Mental Health. I did not complete the dissertation for this Masters’ degree after the sudden and unexpected death of my mother.
“After seven years in this environment, I was employed as the Clinical Counselling Manager at LifeLine Johannesburg. It was while working for LifeLine and, then, later as the Young Adult Programme Manager for the Akeso Psychiatric Clinic that I became passionate about the need to ‘talk about suicide’ and focus efforts around suicide awareness and prevention in South Africa.
“I felt very strongly that not enough is being done in South Africa around suicide and that resources are limited. I then began a Masters’ degree in Clinical Social Work, focussing my internship work and dissertation on suicide and suicide grief.
“In 2005, I attended an ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) offered at a LifeLine International Conference in Durban South Africa. I loved the training programme. In 2009, I had the opportunity to train as a safeTALK (Suicide Alertness for Everyone) trainer and have since facilitated over 30 trainings within South Africa. With Living Works, I also offered the safeTALK training at the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatric and Allied Professions (IACAPAP) Conference in August 2014.
“In 2013, I started my own private practice and registered Suicide Survivors as a business. My primary focus is to have as many people as possible attend the safeTALK trainings and to be speaking openly and directly about suicide and to assist people to be able to identify the warning signs of depression and suicide. I also believe that professional therapists (psychologists, social workers and registered counsellors) are anxious when working with clients who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and that not enough training is done at university level around suicide. For that reason, I am passionate about being able to offer a training programme, such as ASIST to all professionals, lay counsellors and all individuals directly involved with people at risk of suicide in South Africa.
“I am a therapist, specialising in working with depression, suicidal ideation, addiction, bereavement, trauma, relationship counselling, adolescent and family work. I am a trainer and facilitator offering the safeTALK as well as Parenting, Effective Communication and Basic Counselling and Addiction Workshops. I also work in the employee wellness field and facilitate corporate trainings, focus groups, mentoring and coaching sessions as well as change management processes.
“I also facilitate support group processes (divorce care, suicide care, parenting support groups and professional development groups). I am also a trained divorce mediator and I offer mediation and the drawing up of parenting plans to family’s going through a divorce.”
One of the most defining moments in my life: The death of my mother in May 2001. My mother died in a very traumatic way. My parents were travelling from Jeffrey’s Bay, where they had moved to the year before, to Johannesburg for a visit and to surprise my nephew for his second birthday. At Cookhouse, a kudu jumped over their car and landed on the car killing my mother instantly. My mother was still recovering from a triple heart bypass she had in the November of 2000. We believed that she had been given a new lease on life but was then killed by a kudu. I struggled with the loss of my mother as we were incredibly close. I developed depression, which also manifested with suicidal thoughts and was angry with God for not sparing my mother as well as for the insane manner in which she died. As a family, we also fragmented.
Why I chose my profession: When I was about 16 years old, my mother presented with what I now believe to be depression with psychotic episodes. At the time, we did not know what was happening to my mother and we as a family felt helpless and powerless to help her or to know what she needed. I believe that I initially studied psychology and social work to find an explanation to what I experienced with my mother as well as to vicariously assist others deal with what we as a family experienced. I also believe that I had a calling to enter my profession.
I would you have loved to have a heart to heart chat to: Carl Rogers, Gregory Bateson, Michael White, Watzlavick and other authors of the fundamental theories that inform my work. I look forward to one day having a heart to heart chat with the Lord.
Lorraine offers various training courses, including:
- safeTalk (suicide alertness for everyone)
- Suicide care (specialised training for social workers, psychologists, registered counsellors and lay counsellors)
- Parenting workshop (to provide parents with information and skills to improve their parenting practices and improve family relationships)
For more information, contact Lorraine Mitchell on 084 560 1003 or visit www.suicide.survivors.co.za or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a look at Lorraine’s profile in the August edition of Get It Joburg East.