Communal Response To Mental Health Disorders Ramping Up ‘Rapidly’

Screenshot Jewish Week

By Hannah Dreyfus

This is the third of a three-part series. Read part one and part-two here

Julia Abramson, a 16-year-old living in suburban Detroit and a loyal camper at Camp Ramah Canada, associated summertime with cookouts, color wars and canoeing with friends on the camp lake.

Then, last fall, shocking news forever altered her camp memories — a longtime friend and co-camper had committed suicide with seemingly little warning. He was 15 years old. (A tribute fund was created in his memory.)

“I felt taken aback, and helpless,” said Julia, a rising junior at a public high school in Detroit. “I had known him for so long — how could I have been there for him. How could I have helped?”

Abramson found the answer in activism. She applied to be on the Jewish Fund Teen Board of Michigan, a project of the Jewish Teen Funders Network that teaches teens about grantmaking and philanthropy. Together with 11 teen board members, Abramson helped choose mental health as the board’s operating cause.

The teen board awarded $10,000 to U-Matter, a special project that brought mental health education and suicide prevention training to local high schools.

“I still feel a deep sadness that I wasn’t able to help Ronen,” said Abramson, referring to her friend who committed suicide. “I hope we can save thousands of other lives in his memory.”

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