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    “Crush the Lemon”: A Navy Sailor and Brooklyn, New York Native’s Message to Others During Suicide Prevention Month Rock Placement Ceremony

    “Crush the Lemon”: A Navy Sailor and Brooklyn, New York Native’s Message to Others During Suicide Prevention Month Rock Placement Ceremony

    Photo By Vernishia Vaughn | Brooklyn, New York native and Hospital Corpsman Nathalie Olarte shares the three rocks...... read more read more



    Story by Vernishia Vaughn 

    Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

    As Suicide Prevention Awareness Month wraps up, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's Department of Behavioral Health team hosted a Rock Placing Ceremony and Resource Fair, reminding everyone that help is available, and healing is possible.

    The ceremony was a symbolic gesture to honor and remember those who have lost their lives to suicide.

    Following opening remarks from Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sheila Houghton-Antonucci, Department Chief for Behavioral Services, participants chose a painted rock and placed it throughout the garden.

    Hospital Corpsman Nathalie Olarte was one of many attendees and also participated in painting rocks held early in the month. She attended the ceremony in honor of loved ones she lost due to suicide.

    "I lost two friends to suicide, so it was important for me to be here," shared Olarte. "It's a special way to honor their memory and to show others that they're not alone."

    Olarte painted a lemon on one of the three rocks she decorated, and on that rock read, "Crush the lemons," reminding others that "they don't always have to make lemonade out of lemons," said Olarte.

    "A lot of people always say, 'make lemonade out of lemons,' I kind of take it, as in, 'just deal with it,' which I don't think that's true at all," shared the Brooklyn, New York native. "It's okay to feel what you need to feel, and when you're done feeling what you feel, you go on and conquer (crush) that feeling (lemon)."

    Along with the Rock Placement ceremony, the event included Stories of Hope, where people wrote inspirational messages that hung on a backdrop and a resource fair.

    "I found the resource fair important," shared Laura Smith, associate program director for Child and Family Social Work Fellowship.

    "It's important because we're all in this fight against suicide prevention and ensuring people know there's hope."

    The resource fair featured a variety of groups, including Pastoral Care, Integrated Health and Wellness Service, American Red Cross, and many others, that provide support and resources to people struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors, as well as their families and friends.

    Army Lt. Col. Kelly Rivera, program director for Child Adolescent Psychiatry Service Social Work, shared the importance of raising awareness and supporting those struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

    "The biggest message we wanted to get out is there's hope," shared Rivera. "We understand that life is turbulent, and you have ups and downs, but if you stay on the journey, it gets better."

    In line with the "crush the lemons" message, Rivera reminds everyone to acknowledge their feelings and seek help. At the same time, Olarte says, "You don't have to always "make lemonade out of lemons."

    Rivera said that the Stories of Hope will be placed throughout the hospital for others to read, and the decorated rocks will be "scattered throughout the hospital to read and take for inspiration."

    If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 988 and press one or text 838255.

    Additional resources:

    • Mental Health Resources
    • Psychological Health Center of Excellence
    • TRICARE Mental Health Services
    • CDC Mental Health Page
    • Suicide Prevention
    • 988 Information
    • Military and Veterans Crisis Line
    • VA Suicide Prevention

    In addition to annual-hosted events, Walter Reed's Department of Behavioral Health team provides year-round support for patients and their families with a commitment to continue raising awareness about suicide prevention and providing support to those in need.



    Date Taken: 09.26.2023
    Date Posted: 09.26.2023 15:57
    Story ID: 454350
    Location: BETHESDA, MD, US
    Hometown: BROOKLYN, NY, US

    Web Views: 45
    Downloads: 1