One woman tried to get me fired from my new job as a therapist in the fall of 2011. In a month of learning about this backhanded move (having never been truly bullied before, no coping skills), I was hospitalized for the first time in my life (no mental health treatment prior) for being suicidal, which I was. Now I am grateful, what she meant to destroy me buried me so deep into the depths of despair, off my mountain of success and happiness.... God only knows what is growing out of my healing process. It took so much work, a decade, but roots are so much deeper, and I learned so much more than any school or textbook can teach.
I did not write the article, but photo and first time attending an Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk. FYI the Suicide Crisis Prevention Line is also 988.
CARROLL COUNTY TIMES |
SEP 15, 2021 AT 7:35 AM
With inspiration and support from Gayle Mathues, left, and Diane Brown, Judith Viers, right, has created Share Hope Through Art, a new nonprofit in Carroll County, focused on helping those struggling with thoughts of suicide or mental illness through therapeutic art. Share Hope Through Art currently has a display set up inside the Westminster Branch of the Carroll County Public Library to coincide with Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)
A new nonprofit in Carroll County is looking to help those struggling with thoughts of suicide and mental illness through therapeutic art and friendship.
Judith Viers, founder of Share Hope Through Art, is working to coordinate art workshops and resource information on suicide prevention with local mental and behavioral treatment centers.
“Everyone has a story and I plan on sharing mine to those it may help,” she said.
In her lifetime, Viers has lost several people to suicide or overdose but since the COVID-19 pandemic, she lost two loved ones within a short period of time.
A devastating loss in February led her seek the support of family and friends also grieving the loss of a loved one through suicide.
“I can say in complete truth that hope, help and healing are needed” to get through the struggle, Viers said. “Share Hope Through Art is a means to spread hope and normalize the fact that hard times happen and that they get better when you take steps to improve them.”
Through this nonprofit, which is under the Community Foundation of Carroll County, Viers shares her own story to break the stigma around mental health struggles and treatment and uses art as advocacy in hopes of preventing more suicides.
She said her proudest moment is the day she was suicidal and in complete despair, but put herself in the hospital and chose life.
Viers is now developing workshops, but in the meantime, Share Hope through Art will be participating in several events, including the Hope and Healing Fair, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Community Walk and IGNITE Carroll 9.
The Out of the Darkness Walk will be held Sunday at Krimgold Park from 9 a.m. to noon.
In addition, the nonprofit will have a display in the Westminster Branch of the Carroll County Public Library throughout September in honor of Suicide Prevention Month. The display is filled with art pieces that encourage those who are struggling to be strong and seek help.
Share Hope Through Art has set up this display inside the Westminster Branch of the Carroll County Public Library to coincide with Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)
“Once COVID-19 is not an issue I’m hoping to do more group events with people making art together,” Viers said.
Sondra Groft, a Westminster resident and outreach coordinator for Carroll County nonprofits, has supported Viers in her mission since the beginning. Groft’s husband was a Marine veteran twice wounded in Vietnam who took his own life.
“Suicide prevention is very dear to me,” she said. Viers “has done an excellent job” reaching out to the community.
She said “there are things people in anguish can do” and Share Hope through Art is determined to make those mental health resources known.
Another supporter, Diane Brown, said she believes what Viers is doing is “very valuable” to the community.
“Judy has had some real challenges in her life and now she wants to help others who have gone through the same thing,” she said. “She wants to raise awareness for mental health in general but especially for suicide prevention.”
Brown described Viers as a people-person who can “really relate” to others.
“Last year taught us it’s difficult to be alone but life is worth living and there is help out there.” she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 47,000 people died by suicide in 2019. Suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.
Those looking for support can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or Maryland Crisis Connect at 211.
Madison Bateman is a reporter for the Carroll County Times focusing on county government. Before joining Baltimore Sun Media in 2021, Madison worked for the Southern Maryland News reporting on county government, education and the General Assembly. She was born and raised in St. Mary’s County and is a St. Mary’s College of Maryland graduate.
I tend to think outside the box, so would prefer to share my introduction for “World is Better with You In It” presentation I wrote read by the fabulous Vince Buscemi at Ignite Carroll 9 to answer this question.
Judith Kuzmak Viers is the founder of Share Hope through Art and an advocate for hope and healing. Through this non-profit, which is under the Community Foundation of Carroll County, she shares her story to break the stigma around mental health struggles and treatment and uses art as advocacy in hopes of preventing more suicides. Her proudest moment isn’t getting married, having kids, finishing grad school, passing the board, working as a social worker, or starting a non-profit…. but the day she put herself in the hospital and choose life, when she was in complete despair, suicidal with racing thoughts. She only chose life in her darkest moments which lacked all hope because she remembered her father’s words that “losing a child to suicide is the worst thing in the world that can happen to a parent,” which he said after the funeral of her neighbor who died by suicide in 2003. She lost two loved ones during this pandemic to suicide and now wants to share publicly to anyone who will listen that the “World is Better with You In It.”
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your family.
I’m happily engaged to my ex-husband I have 2 children and 2 wonderful bonus stepdaughters.
Q: Please tell us about your current, past, or future career. What do you love most about what you do?
I’ve had a lot of experiences from being a bank teller, Raven’s Suite Attendant, a Social Worker employed by the state to work in the foster care system, therapist, personal trainer… now I hope to take my non-profit Share Hope Through Art, full-time doing suicide prevention. I am currently unemployed.
Q: What are a couple of your favorite places or events in our community?
I try to go to Billy’s Find Your Purpose Events. My kids and I enjoy many Carroll County parks, playgrounds, Baugher’s Petting Zoo, Lake Hashawha/ Bear Branch Nature Center, we church hop too. We enjoy many library programs and loved the Judy Center at RME.
Q: What is one of your favorite movies? TV shows?
I like the Chosen Series. We haven’t had “tv” in years so if the library doesn’t rent it, we haven’t seen it.
Q: What advice would you give to people?
Do NOT give up on life. Do what you can.
Q: What is your go to band when you can’t decide what to listen to?
My favorite song is Hey Jude by the Beetles, live by the lyrics “take a sad song and make it better.” Go to music Michael Franti, Jaw Works, Kellly Bell Band, Tim Nodar, Uniekgrace, Jaimie Cullum, Billy Currington tend to like musicians I’ve met.
Q: If you could choose anyone that is alive today and not a relative; with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would y’all meet for this lunch?
Dorothy Day. She went to prison what she believed and I LOVE her quote “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about our community?
Those up to good truly work together.
Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I got stuck in a cave for 20 seconds and was truly terrified. I almost drowned trying to swim under a dam. I asked Todd Heap & 2 other Ravens football players for their tickets working security at the stadium… Didn’t know their entrance, was hilarious.
Q: What would you rate a 10 out of 10?
My Desire, passion, dedication that my children and none of their peer group to die a death of despair, NO MORE suicides, overdoses, drunk driving, mass shooting.
Q: Who inspires you to be better?
Someone I lost to suicide. She was a bright light and I don’t want to see another light gone out. She reminds me we as individuals and the world need to do better.
Q: Finally, what 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
Safe, Happy, Work
SUBMISSIONS WANTED: Calling all artists!
Visit me at: https://www.facebook.com/sharehopethroughart
My Experience With Bipolar Disorder
Finding The Right Tools For Recovery
Finding My Purpose
I renewed my license to become a therapist and continue to use art with others.