By Judy Krasna
After my daughter took her own life almost 3 months ago, I felt like I had to return immediately to the path of eating disorders advocacy and activism that I had been on for the past 7+ years.
While part of me wanted to take a break so that I could have more of an opportunity to come to terms with the enormous loss that I was experiencing and face the grief that accompanies a tragedy of this magnitude, I realized that I would do better if I were to grieve through purpose. I need purpose.
In addition to getting back to my regular activities at F.E.A.S.T. and continuing to support other parents, there were two things that were really important for me to get done immediately following the traditional Jewish mourning period of shiva.
The first was setting up a charity project in memory of my daughter, Gavriella. In the Jewish faith, we believe that acts of kindness that we do in a person’s memory can elevate their soul in heaven. Gavriella was unfailingly kind and extraordinarily generous, and we wanted to memorialize her in a way that paid tribute to the giving, caring person who she was, and that did not involve the illness that took her life. We decided to raise funds to renovate and refurbish the soccer field at the children’s home where Gavriella worked as a substitute mom to a group of kids who were removed from their families by social services for all sorts of terrible reasons. Gavriella was never happier than when she was with “her” kids, and this children’s home where she worked is a remarkable place doing inspirational work. We know that Gavriella would have wanted us to memorialize her through helping the kids who she loved so much and building them a safe, comfortable place to play.
The second thing that I really wanted to do was to set up a webinar for clinicians about treating suicidality and eating disorders. The percentage of eating disorder patients with suicidal ideation is high; and as such, providers need to be trained to treat suicidality.
My daughter was not an anomaly. During the years that her eating disorder included suicidality, we found it impossible to get her treatment for both issues; she could either receive treatment for her eating disorder or she could receive treatment for suicidality, but they were mutually exclusive.
This, of course, is totally ludicrous, not to mention ineffective, since suicidality and depression are known to be common co-morbid conditions in individuals who suffer with eating disorders. Both conditions must be treated simultaneously if there is to be any chance of recovery.
I approached Dr. Lucene Wisniewski shortly after the loss of my daughter and asked her whether she would consider doing a webinar on the topic of suicidality in eating disorders. I explained why the topic was so personal and critical to me, and she graciously agreed. I thought of her because I went to a workshop at the International Conference on Eating Disorders a few years ago where she was on a panel presenting about suicidality, and she really blew me away. In fact, all 3 panelists were just outstanding. Though the workshop was directed toward clinicians, as a parent, I walked away with a huge amount of practical knowledge.
At first, I thought about doing this webinar for Israeli clinicians since I live in Israel, but then I realized that this is a global issue and that the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) would reach a broader clinician audience, which was really the goal. I am both pleased and appreciative that the AED took the ball and ran with it, and that Scott Crow and Emily Pisetsky, the other 2 presenters in the workshop that I referenced above, will be joining Lucene Wisniewski for this webinar as well.
The webinar will take place on Wednesday, September 30 at noon EDT; and as per my request, the webinar is also open to non-AED members so that parents, Israeli clinicians, and anyone else who is interested can participate. Here is the information on the webinar, and here is the link to register. If you have the ability to attend, I highly encourage you to do so. Trust me, it’s extremely worthwhile.
Just like at F.E.A.S.T we believe that educating parents leads to empowerment, I believe the same to be true for clinicians. I initiated this webinar because I want to help empower clinicians to treat the patients that scare them the most, and to do it proficiently and skillfully, by offering them the knowledge and tools that will better enable them to treat suicidality in eating disorders and ultimately save lives. I am hoping that the webinar will accomplish this goal, and I am extremely grateful to the presenters and to the AED for helping me honor my daughter’s memory through educating clinicians on this difficult yet critically important topic.
II have registered for the Webinar but am wondering if it will be available afterwards as I am in Australia and it will be 12 am here.
Yes, it will be available afterwards, they are recording it for those who can’t attend live.
Judy, this is an amazing undertaking. Thank you. I am on the lookout for a volunteer to help me translate from English to French…as I am not a native French speaker (although our book is in French). There are so many FEAST docs which could be useful here. Thank you for your ongoing work.
Hi Judy, I am also in Australia.This webinar sounds amazing (I am a parent of a daughter who has been struggling for 10 years).
Will we be able to access the recording through FEAST, as I contacted AED and they said you could access the recording if you were an AED member?
Hi Sarah–I will ask whether they will allow us to access the recording through FEAST.
Hi Judy, really keen to access the recoding. Have you been able to follow this up? Is there anything I could do from my end?
This is the link to the webinar https://vimeo.com/463865592
Judy, I am in awe that you have organised this. Thank you.
Thank you for bringing this to the attention of clinicians. My daughter took her life 9 years ago after 3 years of bulimia. I stand with you and appreciate your work.
I am so sorry for your loss, Patricia.
I’m so sorry for your loss and your efforts to helping others. My question is if we view it live, about how long can we expect the webinar to be?
It’s an hour.
This is a constant fear of mine. I thank you so much for sharing. I am only available for the first and last hour so would love to have a recording as well.
Hi Judy, I have heard from FEAST that the recording will be available on the FEAST website for those of us in Australia & NZ
Judy, your courage and resilience are amazing. Thank you for setting this up. Since I just read this and here in Tucson it is already 11 am on 9/30 I am glad to learn it will be taped and available. Suicidal ideation is constantly present yet those who treat our family members do not get what a strong undertow it creates to an already difficult diagnosis.
It occurs to me as I write this note that the development of resilience would be another topic of great use to people like me and others whose family member has been struggling for a long time not only for the caregiver but also for the person with the diagnosis. For another day…..
Thank you, again.
Where can I find this webinar please as I’m trying to get help for my daughter.
Here is the link https://vimeo.com/463865592
Sadly I did miss this Webinar
Although our d is not suicidal atm (still a constant worry for me as she is still very moody, up and down)
Recently job losses in the family not helping
However I have done a suicide first aid course last year which was helpful
I just wanted to say a big thank you to you Judy for your work in this area even with your recent loss of your gorgeous daughter
I was dismissed many times by others and some on this forum when I would mention my d SH and SI which left me confused and like I myself was going mad
(Oh not many commit suicide) 😕
Only those who’s kid hasn’t SH or spoken in this way would think or say this
Only now when I think back I realise the stress I was under and still am
For eg: last night after an argument Over nothing with d, she takes off in the car and says forget about me sorry I make your life so miserable after lots of msgs finally she seems to calm and says she will be home later
Did I find it easy to go to sleep ???? NO + plus I’m battling a serious dx of my own recently out of hospital from a week stay
How does one live with this constant stress?
And remain normal??
Was this covered in the webinar and is it going to be available at ATDT or do we still need to register even tho it’s already been held?
I have booked a councillor appt but of course can’t get in for a number of weeks
Thanks again for your blogs on this forum they are very helpful
The webinar was geared toward clinicians but is very useful for parents as well. Here is the link https://vimeo.com/463865592.