Courageous TMC nurse takes on suicide stigma

Jason CuttingSeptember 10 – 16 is National Suicide Prevention Week – reduce the stigma, start a conversation and #StopSuicide.

Jason Cutting wanted to be in the middle of it all. He loved the arts and entertaining. RENT was his favorite musical, and he knew every word to every song. He put his heart into everything he did, whether crushing a performance in My Fair Lady or advocating for equal rights, regardless of sexual orientation.

Through it all, he struggled long and hard with mental illness. Even though Jason was lost to the disease when he died by suicide, he will always be a brave big brother to his sister, Sarah. She decided not to allow stigma to steal the focus from Jason’s beautiful memory.

Sarah, an Emergency Department nurse, is leading the effort to eradicate the stigma that surrounds suicide as the TMC champion for Tucson’s  Out of the Darkness Community Walk, an annual event hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Suicide StigmaHard to say, hard to hear

The heart-wrenching loss of suicide – and the stigma around it – make conversations about it difficult.

“I didn’t even know how I was going to talk about it, because I was afraid people would judge, or react with shock or pity,” she said.

Sarah, though, was determined to make a difference and put aside her fears, directly challenging stigma. The open dialogue had an unexpected and positive result. “I found healing in talking about my brother, and I was surprised how many people approached me who have also lost someone to suicide.”

Better understanding, better prevention

Sarah also explained that more discussion brought about a better understanding of suicide.

Sarah Cutting“When survivors share their experiences, people will hear that suicide is not a selfish act,” she said. “Rather, people hear just how intensely someone was suffering, how they truly felt hopeless and believed they were a burden to all around them.”

Sarah believes that better understanding will lead to action. “With this knowledge, people will be motivated to learn the warning signs and feel more comfortable talking to someone they think may be having suicidal thoughts.”



You can have an impact

Out of the DarknessThe Tucson Out of the Darkness Community Walk is open to all, and free to attend. “This is a way to honor the memories of those we have lost to suicide, and the best way to start discussions and spread awareness,” said Sarah. “Join us!”


Walk Date: 10/14/2017                                                                 

Walk Location: Reid Park 

Check-in/Registration Time:  8:00 am

Walk Begins: 10:00 am

Walk Ends: 11:00 am

Donations can be made via Sarah’s donor page. Please note that all proceeds go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.


Suicide warning signs and risk factors

Pima County assistance resources

AZ Department of Veterans Services resources

National suicide hotline

The Trevor Project

Pima County Crisis Response Center: (520) 622-6000 or 1-866-495-6738


Depression, suicide and mental health – Don’t wait until crisis

"Robin Williams 2008" by Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA - Cropped from Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - untimely death of Robin Williams, iconic actor and comedian, has shaken many of us. That someone with such obvious talents, appreciated by millions, could feel so lost, so in pain, and so beyond help that he would take his own life may be hard to understand. But depression is not logical, it isn’t a choice, it is a disease just like cancer, lupus, and heart disease. It is not just being in a funk and needing to pull yourself out of it – depression is an insidious, invisible, and a potentially life-threatening disease with biological and psychological basis.  And while poverty and lack of access to healthcare exacerbate depression, depression knows no boundaries regarding socio-economic class, gender, race or age.

Did you know that one in ten Americans suffers from depression? Or that suicide claims close to 40,000 Americans each year? Or that a vast majority of those who will die are suffering with depression (which can often be managed with the appropriate help)?

Whether you were part of the Mork and Mindy or Mrs. Doubtfire generations, Dead Poets’ Society or Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams is an integral part of our Western youth. Always open about his own struggles with mental illness and addiction, neither Williams’s transparency regarding his struggles, nor his ability to laugh could not prevent the disease, but it can remind us today to recommit to our own mental health, to destroying the stigma that surrounds depression and other mental illnesses, and to reaching out when we see another in pain and seeking treatment to manage the disease.

Someone you love is dealing with mental illness today, it impacts one in four Americans. You don’t need to be in crisis to consider or seek mental health support, make mental health part of your regular check up.  Check in with your primary care physician.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Forces recommends that children age 12 and older and adults be regularly screened for depression.

In Tucson, if you or someone you care for is in crisis contact SAMHC Mobile teams are available 24/7 to respond to crises in the community and can be accessed by calling (520) 622-6000. SAMHC works closely and collaboratively with the public behavioral health system.












Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461