EXCLUSIVE: Only IN suicidologist talks on how personal story helps her save lives

EXCLUSIVE: Only IN suicidologist talks on how personal story helps her save lives
Updated: Aug. 10, 2018 at 4:30 PM CDT
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NEWBURGH, IN (WFIE) - A staff member at a local psychiatric hospital is saving lives.

Janet Schnell works at Brentwood Springs in Newburgh. Her story of loss is leading to her passion for helping other suicide loss survivors.

"She said, 'No mam you don't understand. He's asleep, and he's never going to wake up,'" says Schnell.

Chilling words, even after 20 years. Schnell recalls the day her brother Kent died by suicide.

Schnell still goes back to the day before his death. Kent called to talk about a break up.

"Instead of shutting up and listening to what he had to stay, I actually started talking and not listening," says Schnell.

Now, Schnell listens for a living. She's the only certified suicidologist in Indiana. Her passion fueled by the pain of one loss nearly made two.

Years later, her college-aged son showed signs of suicide.

"He had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and that was one of the hardest things I ever had to hear on the phone was my son saying that he wanted to die," says Schnell.

He is happy now thanks to Schnell's quick recognition and training to get him the help he needed. That is what she's doing for countless clients in the tri-state.

"We don't all grieve the same way, but as long as we're grieving, it's good," says Schnell.

Schnell spreads a message of hope and learning to live again.

"Most importantly we need to know that we can survive because that's one of the hardest aspects to understand," says Schnell.

Following a suicide, loved ones are left with unanswered questions. That is why Schnell is certified in psychological autopsies, also the only in the state.

"We're trying to figure out what happened. There's no one reason why, but with the autopsy we can help determine the most likely causes," says Schnell.

Causes that help loss survivors add to the story. These autopsies can help determine what we are missing when it comes to the area's high suicide rate, a number that tripled in Warrick County last year.

"I'm one person but I want to be able to spread the information," says Schnell. "I don't want to be just one person. I want to be able to go out and make the world a better place."

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal depression, you can find an extensive list of resources here.

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