ORLANDO – As a crisis intervention coordinator for Orange County Corrections, Lt. Deanne Adams has seen people brought into the jail after being given a prison sentence who are shocked, depressed – and suicidal.
“I’ve worked within corrections for 29 years now, and we have a really good system in place where we screen everyone who comes in for depression and mental illness and suicidal behavior, and we always have to be one guard for that,” Adams said. “We just have to follow our policies and procedures and communicate as much as we can.”
But no one at the jail was prepared last summer when one of their own colleagues took her life. No one expected it, or had seen any warning signs, she said. And the suicide victim’s colleagues were left to helplessly wonder why it happened.
“When something like this happens, it really devastates people,” Adams said. “Within our corrections family, it devastated us. But this happens everywhere, whether you’re a high school student or someone in law enforcement or corrections. It happens every single day, and we need to talk about this and raise awareness about it.”
Adams is a Crisis team Intervention Officer, a team of law enforcement and corrections officers trained to work with people who suffer from mental illness and depression.
“We learn about the different types of mental illnesses,” she said, “and I’ve been involved in this training for 10 years now.”
Adams is hoping to heighten awareness about this very emotional issue – and to help raise funds for organizations that assist the mentally ill or that work to help people who are suicidal – through the 1st Annual CIT Motorcycle Card Run, which will be held on Saturday. The event is actually called Jody’s Run, named after the corrections officer who committed suicide this past summer. This kind of tragedy is far more common than a lot of people realize, Adams said.
“Every time we do a CIT class, which is a 40 hour class, someone will come up to me to tell about someone they know who suffers from mental illness,” she said. “It’s something we just don’t talk about. I guess people think it’s shameful. Well, let’s stop hiding from it and let’s start talking it.”
That’s why she helped organize Jody’s Run, to serve that purpose.
“The community is welcome to attend for a $10 donation,” Adams said. “We’re just trying to make it a party and honor people’s lives and bring awareness.”
The cost to enter is $25 per bike, and $10 per passenger, and $10 per person for non-riders. The First Bike Out is at 10:30 a.m., and the Last Bike Out at 11 a.m. At the conclusion of the run, everyone is invited to attend the After Party starting at 1 p.m. at the Route 46 Entertainment Complex in Sanford. There will be live music, a barbeque, raffle prizes and a silent auction. The Matt Shenk Band and Jills Cashbox Band will perform.
Bikes depart from Southern Honda, 16123 W. State Road 50 in Oakland, with the first stop at JB Boondocks in Howie in the Hills; second stop, The Shamrock on State Road 441 in Leesburg; third stop, Rock Springs Bar & Grill in Apopka; and the final stop at the Route 46 Entertainment Complex, 4316 W. State Road 46, Sanford.
Money raised from this event will benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness–Greater Orlando Affiliate, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The Crisis Intervention Team is a group of specially trained Central Florida law enforcement officers who deal with mentally ill individuals. The team members are trained to deal with complex situations and direct the person into treatment rather of jail.
CIT is made up of members from various local police departments, including the ones in
Apopka, Eatonville, Edgewood, Maitland, Oakland, Ocoee, Orlando, Winter Garden, Winter Park and Windermere, as well as staff from Orange County Corrections, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and the University of Central Florida Police Department. It will be a nearly all day event.
“This is the first motorcycle run I’ve ever put on,” Adams said. “I’m a little nervous.”
But with meteorologists forecasting a cold spell that will knock temperatures from the low 90s to the low 80s, Adams is hopeful the weather will be ideal for an outdoor event like this one.
“I’m really excited about that,” she said. “We have a lot of people that are riding. Today, for instance, I’ve had five people call me and they told me they saw the information about it.”
Sadly, all too many of them are asking for more information about this event because their own lives have been tragically impacted by the suicide of a loved one, Adams said.
“A mother called me and told me her 17-year-old daughter committed suicide last year,” she said. “Not 10 minutes ago, a man called me and told me about his wife’s suicide. Sadly, when I got involved with this about 10 years ago, I was so passionate for these two causes, I become a board member for both of these organizations. I also work with the homeless who are mentally ill. You reach out to families and you work with people, but when it happens to you, it cuts so deep, and it changes you.”
This event, she said, is done not only in tribute to her former colleague Jody, but also to anyone whose life has been touched by suicide or mental illness in some way.
“This year we wanted to reach different levels of people, people who have lost neighbors and friends, to let people know there is education and changes out there, and to break down the walls of this stigma,” she said. “That is what this is all about. We’re all coming together to bring awareness and honor the people that we love who have lost their lives. We’re all so very passionate about this.”
Oct. 1 is the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week. Adams said this issue should no longer be one that people are afraid or embarrassed to talk about.
“I was over at the Wekiva State Park last weekend, and a band was getting ready to close down, and I asked if they could make an announcement about the run,” she said. “After I did, three people came up to me and told me their story.”
To learn more about the run, contact Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 407-448-8301.
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