Haley Lynch (Board Member)
My name is Haley Lynch, I am a 27-year-old Iowa City native. I currently work as a para-educator for the Iowa City Community School District and raise my son, Georgie (just turned eight!). I lost my significant other to suicide in 2011, after that loss I decided to participate in an Out of the Darkness walk to meet other people in similar positions. As a result I developed a strong passion for suicide prevention and awareness, which led me to volunteer for the Iowa City community walk in 2013 where I also participated as the guest speaker for the event. I ended up meeting Keri Neblett through that experience and for the past few years have helped plan out the walk with the Crisis Center, asking for donations, posting flyers, raising funds, and hosting a few low-key fundraiser events. During the past few years I have been asked to speak several times to different groups such as the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition, a committee of Eastern Iowa social workers, partnering up with a NAMI representative to speak at one of their annual Iowa City walks, as well as a NAMI sponsored candlelight vigil during National Suicide Prevention Week. I was asked to speak at a local high school where I again partnered up with a NAMI representative and we educated the students and staff about suicide prevention and mental health awareness. A couple of years ago I attended a training program by the AFSP partnered with Mourning Star and the Dougy Center where I became trained as a support group facilitator for children and teenagers who have survived a suicide loss. After that training I was asked by Amanda the Panda (a family grief center in Des Moines) to assist with suicide bereavement in an Iowa middle school where two students had died by suicide. Because of the work I have put in, my son and I have appeared in the news several times and have been the subject of a few grad students’ projects surrounding mental health. Our story has inspired a few individuals to go after careers in the mental health field. While our Crisis Center has decided to part ways with the AFSP walk and do their own thing, Keri has passed along the contact information of someone who is hoping to create an Out of the Darkness Campus Walk. I am hoping to assist in helping set that up and making it happen. I would love to continue being apart of the movement that assists with raising awareness, educating the community about prevention, and supporting one another in times of bereavement–I would love to continue combating stigmas and creating a better environment for others to open up about their struggles. I struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies as a teenager which is an experience I reflect on to better help others as I feel I have an added perspective to understand what they may be feeling.