Salisbury, MD – With mental health concerns on the rise, suicide awareness is becoming more prevalent. Unfortunately, the silence and stigma surrounding the topic can leave those people struggling with suicidal thoughts feeling isolated from the support and sense of belonging they need.
Sometimes, the most important thing you can do is reach out.
That was what Kim Klump set out to do when she started the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund. After losing her son Jesse to suicide, she realized there was a need for more mental health and suicide prevention resources on the Eastern Shore. In addition to community events and outreach, the organization annually gives grants to professionals in mental health trying to make a difference in the world.
This year, the organization decided to provide a $5,000 scholarship to a student in Salisbury University’s Master of Social Work Program.
“Jesse believed that we needed to do what we could to make the world a better place,” Kim said. “The Jesse Klump Memorial Fund board thought we should give to social work to encourage someone who wants to be part of that change.”
Sage Simone, the recipient of the scholarship, entered SU’s M.S.W. Program hoping to do just that.
“One thing that has always been important to me is human connection,” Simone said. “I thought social work would be a good way to help people and find ways to improve systems that are already in place.”
Mental health is a subject that is important to Simone as well. As a member of the queer community, they are aware of the mental health struggles of LGBTQIA+ individuals, and the barriers they face to access resources and treatment. Hoping to create a sense of connection, they started an LGBTQIA+ support group aimed at SU graduate students, and their biggest goal is to someday open an LGBTQIA+ community center on the Eastern Shore.
One of their driving forces is making mental health resources more accessible, especially to historically marginalized populations, and breaking down stigmas surrounding mental health.
“I believe we need to have the courage and grace to discuss things others may not want to talk about,” Simone said. “I think the shame is what keeps people from reaching out when they’re struggling. We need a community where people realize they’re not alone.”
Simone took part in the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund’s annual Jesse’s Paddle fundraising event (http://www.jessespaddle.org), at which they were presented with the scholarship. The day offers a relaxed atmosphere with a paddle event and scavenger hunt, silent auction, live music and information on suicide prevention and awareness for those interested.
The Jesse Klump Memorial Fund also gave an additional $5,000 to SU’s Center for Healthy Communities, to be used for programmatic funding with a focus on suicide prevention and mental health. The funds supported the recent event “Power of Expression,” a documentary and concert about anxiety, depression and mental health.
“Our goal is to educate everyone to be able to recognize someone in crisis, and how to step in and help them get the help they need to recover,” Kim said.
Coming from Baltimore to the Eastern Shore has been a challenging transition for Simone. They’re grateful for the support they have received from SU faculty and opportunities to connect with community organizations like the Jesse Klump Memorial Fund.
“Being awarded this scholarship is confirmation that people notice my efforts,” Simone said. “It’s encouraging and takes some of the financial burden off, which is a tremendous support for me. Since I’ve come here, I’ve started to feel more welcome and driven to pursue my goals.”
For more information about scholarships and endowments, contact Samantha Hellwege Ulrich at email@example.com.
Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at www.salisbury.edu.