Meet Margie Wright, executive director Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas, which provides a 24-hr crisis hotline, teen counseling, survivor support groups and help for family members enduring the pain after the tragedy of suicide. Wright, who holds a Master of Social Work degree from UT Arlington has dedicated her life to helping the most vulnerable in society. Prior to joining the center, Wright worked at Child Protective Services and served as program administrator.
Wright continues to serve her community as a member of the executive committee for the Texas Suicide Prevention Community Network. She is also a program coordinator for TeenScreen in the North Texas area and has been screening in Dallas for the last decade, focusing on public and private schools and residential facilities. She was awarded the first TeenScreen Innovation Award from Columbia University for her work with children.
Wright's passion also includes education and awareness. She is a frequent speaker in the community on crisis intervention and suicide prevention. We wanted to know more about Wright and Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas. She was kind enough to answer a few questions:
Dawn Tongish: Please tell us about the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas.
Margie Wright: The Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas’ primary mission is to help those in crisis, especially suicidal crisis find hope for the future. All of our programs are mission driven. We started with a crisis hotline in the late 60s and still have the line in operation today. Later we added the Survivors of Suicide program, which provides support to those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Support comes in the form of groups, literature, referrals and one-to-one contact with other survivors. Our newest program, Teens Can Survive, provides screening of teens in the schools as well as education for the parents, teachers and teens about warning signs and ways to respond. We also provide community education on suicide to many other groups. There is a 24-hr crisis hotline: (214) 828-1000.
DT: What are your duties at SCCenter?
MW: I am the Executive Director which means I oversee all the staff and programs and work with our Board of Directors. I am responsible for the financial planning, fundraising, and program development and evaluation.
DT: How did you become involved with SCCenter, and why are you so passionate about the work being done at the center?
MW: I was invited to apply for the job by a person who knew me from my long career at CPS. She thought I was a perfect fit because of background in management and work with crisis. I am passionate because I believe that we can and do make a difference in the lives of people every day. There are so many people in need, and I know we have saved many lives. Not everyone who goes to a job can say that they literally know that they saved a life that day.
DT: People can be reluctant to reach out during a crisis. How do you encourage a person to seek help?
MW: We flood the market with the word that there is help out there. We are on the internet. We talk to people in all kinds of settings. I would encourage the person reading this to call us and talk to someone who is trained to listen. Sometimes just saying things out loud can be helpful. Our crisis counselors are really good at being kind and encouraging. Sometimes a person who is in crisis will have a friend call us. We can call the person and talk to them if they allow us to tell the person that they called.
DT: It can be difficult for any nonprofit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat?
MW: We get our funds from individual donations, grants and from our one special event (Fashion Stars for a Cause) which is chaired by Yvonne Crum. Many people in our community have been impacted by suicide, and often those people are our biggest supporters. We do not receive government or United Way funds.
DT: How can the people of North Texas and beyond help meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs?
MW: Our needs are like most nonprofits. We can always use donations to keep our operating budget afloat. We are always looking for more volunteers to work on the crisis line. Our next class begins in September!
DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas?
MW: Probably the day I held the hand of a teenager who was desperately suicidal and got her parents to get her the help she needed so that she could get back to the business of living and being a kid.
DT: What is the first thing you do when you walk into work each day?
MW: I look around the office, check in with staff, see what has happened during the night and talk with the people who need my help.
If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.
Writer's Note: As I wrote this profile, I thought about the volunteers who maintain the hotline each day. God Bless them. They are saving lives. On the other end of the phone line is a desperate soul who feels that life is so spent that there is nothing left to wake up for the next day. The volunteer may be the difference between one more day. Talk about an important job! The stats are staggering. Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in this country. In 2010, suicide took more lives than car accidents. The elderly and those facing economic and financial hardship are most at risk. Returning troops are in danger too. So how can we help? If we learn to spot the warning signs, then maybe all of us can begin to be like the volunteers who work the phone lines. We can see the signs a little sooner, before the desperation reaches tragedy.