Paulina del Río was born and raised in Chile. She used to work as a translator, but after the suicide of her son José Ignacio—the oldest of her three boys—her life was changed forever. After several difficult years, she was invited to collaborate with a foundation that worked with parents who had
lost a child to suicide. Around the same time, she also began hosting Survivor Day events in Santiago. Her event program includes testimonials by people who have attempted suicide but have since recovered. She writes, “These testimonials have proved to be extremely useful, since they help grieving relatives and friends to understand the state of mind their loved ones were in” when they took their lives.
The parent group she was involved with was quite successful, but Paulina felt she also needed to be in touch with kids who were considering suicide. She started posting in blogs where young people looked for methods to kill themselves, offering them a sympathetic and nonjudgmental ear. The response was overwhelming, with 3 to 5 emails coming in each week from all over the Spanish-speaking world, so Paulina decided to create her own foundation in memory of her son: Fundación José Ignacio. The foundation focuses its attention on four groups of people: first and foremost, the young people who are struggling; second, the parents who have lost a child to suicide; third, the professionals who work with children and teens (teachers, social workers, psychologists, nurses); and fourth, the parents of children who have made suicide attempts or have a mental disorder. Fundación José Ignacio currently has a team of one psychiatrist, three psychologists, and one family counselor, in addition to a group of volunteers that is constantly growing.
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