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Ark Refuge Seeks Community Help after Suicide

Ark Refuge Seeks Community Help after Suicide

Tommy Murphy
Staff Writer

Ark Refuge Ministries is asking for help from the community with providing mental health counseling after one of their residents committed suicide.

“This story is a cry out to the community for help,” said Ark Refuge CEO Yvonne Lopez. She runs the facility that provides rehabilitation and housing for the homeless, substance and alcohol abusers, former prisoners, and others who are trying to turn their life around.

Employees found the victim Thursday morning around 9 a.m. and reported the incident to police. The 39-year-old male had reportedly been at the facility for about a month after being released from prison. Lopez believes he didn’t get mental health counseling that might have prevented him from hanging himself.

No tragedy like this has ever happened at The Ark before advised Lopez. She said the incident shows the need for mental health counseling. While the facility does provide Narcotics Anonymous meetings and church services to help their residents get their life on track, Lopez advised they simply cannot afford to pay for mental health counseling sessions.

Lopez is hoping members of the faith community will step up and donate their time to provide much needed mental health counseling.

“We’ve got a zillion churches in this community. We need some help over here to get these guys some help with mental health issues,” said Lopez.

Lopez advised she isn’t really asking for more funding. She’s just asking for people with the ability to provide mental health counseling to donate their time, whether they are from churches, local colleges, or the community at large.  She also plans to speak with Mayor Jim Thornton, Police Chief Louis Dekmar, and City Manager Meg Kelsey for ideas that might help with the issue.

The ministry holds regular church services, but Lopez notes that many of their residents are new Christians who don’t have a strong relationship with God to pull them through tough times.

Like most Americans, COVID isn’t helping them with mental health either. Lopez notes that they have been fortunate to have no cases within The Ark due to their virus prevention restrictions, but that also means that residents cannot get out like they normally would.

Mental health is an issue for many people right now, but the guys at The Ark cannot afford to pay for mental health counseling sessions, she said.

“Just because these folks have made some bad choices in life doesn’t mean we should write them off,” said Lopez. ”We’re supposed to help them redeem their lives.”

“A whole lot of people in this society could benefit from mental health support, even people who think they are okay,” Lopez added. “It doesn’t hurt anybody to have someone that you can talk to.”

For anyone willing to volunteer mental health counseling services, please contact Ark Refuge Ministries at 706-845-0335 or email them at [email protected]

The author of this article can be reached via email at [email protected]

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