Teen suicide has been a concern for years, especially among young women. My first "guest" has firsthand knowledge of this issue and has dedicated herself to stopping it. Meet Weldresha Davenport!
1. Weldresha, tell us about yourself.
Hello everyone, my name is Weldresha “April” Davenport and I am the founder of Perfecting Touch Ministries. I also have my own business as an event planner. I work a full time job. I love to sing, write poetry/stories, and read. I feel that God is first priority in everything and I love to spend time with my family. I enjoy interacting with people and feel that the heart of compassion that God has given me is truly the motivation for everything I do.
2. What is Lady D’s Academy?Lady D’s Academy is an organization that focuses on suicide prevention and empowerment of young girls and ladies between the ages of 8-21. The organization is set up to aid and assist girls and to give them a glimpse of hope when there seems to be no hope. Whether the hopelessness stems from a broken family, abuse, depression, anxiety, etc… We are here to be a beacon of light to young women who are in a dark place and need to see that they have a reason to live and to press forward. The program starts with the young ladies coming to a retreat where they will go through their initial evaluation which maps them out a plan to aid them on their journey to completeness in their physical, spiritual, and mental health.
3. Why did you feel there was a need for this?For young people between the age of 15-24, suicide is the second leading cause of death and 1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 dies by suicide each year (www.save.org). So many young people are now battling depression in silence. We should save these young people's lives by any means possible.
4. How did Perfecting Touch Ministries get started?Perfecting Touch Ministries was founded in 2012 by myself. I ministered the gospel for the first time at the age of 13. I accepted the call into ministry years later and I then went through ministers training and was officially ordained in 2013.
5. What inspired you to undertake this project?As a young girl I battled with the spirit of suicide in silence. Everyone thought because I smiled all the time and had such a bubbly personality that I had it all together but little did they know, I was crying out for help on the inside but felt that I would be judged by people if I asked for help. I suffered with this into my adulthood. I became chronically depressed, had an eating disorder and became almost helpless to the point of no return. At the age of 27 with everything I had going on, I had a heart attack. This is when I decided to change my life.
6. I have been impacted by suicide myself, being personally acquainted with girls and women who have tried to end their pain by ending their lives. Unfortunately, some of them succeeded. Why do you think so many girls turn to suicide as the answer to their problems?I always felt that I had to be the strength and life line for other people. I feel that so many girls commit suicide because they are crying out for help and they feel that someone should be able to see the warning signs that they are giving but sometimes their signs are not recognized. A lot of young girls fear being judged. A lot of girls that are raised in church or in Christiandom feel that people are going to think that their faith in God is weak when that is not the case. That was the main reason that I did not seek help early on.
7. You know I have to ask this - what exactly is "happiness"? Are there people who are genuinely happy no matter what? What about unhappy people? I personally can think of a couple of people who NEVER seem happy. Can they be? How can we teach young women that suicide is never the answer and that they can be "happy" - even when they feel at their most desperate?
Happiness is something that we find within ourselves and happiness is not a feeling, it is a state of being. Sometimes I feel that joy and happiness are mixed up. Joy is a feeling. Happiness does not mean that there are no heartaches or troubles. Happiness just gives us the faith to believe that no matter how bad a situation may get, there is always hope. I feel that unhappy people can become happy people if they are given the resources and tools needed to put them on a path to fulfillment. We can allow these young girls the ability to realize that there is always a reason to live and push forward. Some of us may very well be their lifeline.8. Some would say suicide is a very depressing topic and would prefer not to deal with it. Is it ever depressing for you? What has been they most difficult part?
Suicide can be a tough subject to discuss with people. Some are uncomfortable or feel that they have to walk on egg shells when talking about it. That is the reason for this organization, to give exposure to this subject and to give people a safe place that will enable them to be able to open up and get the help they so desperately need.
9. This is a blog for budding boomerpreneurs and while yours may not be what most people think of when you say "business", you have been very successful at promoting yourself and your brand. Do you have any resources that you would recommend?
I joined a group on Facebook called “Equipping Christian Women for Business”. The resources and support that I have seen from these ladies has been absolutely incredible. Local news stations and newspapers have been a great tool in gaining exposure as well. I have done a lot of online research that has helped in this manner as well.
10. If we are acquainted with someone who is talking about suicide what should we do? Do you have any tips to share on how to help them?
The number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-727-4747 which is a suicide prevention center. If someone tells you that they are think of committing suicide, DON'T take it as a JOKE, make sure that you listen to them and then refer them to someone who can help and assist them even if you feel that you can’t.
11. What other advice would like to share?
Look for the warning signs of depression or suicidal tendencies. A suicidal person urgently needs to see a doctor or mental health professional.
· Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
· Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
· Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
· Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
· Talking about being a burden to others.
· Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
· Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
· Sleeping too little or too much.
· Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
· Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
· Displaying extreme mood swings.
· Preoccupation with death.
· Suddenly happier, calmer.
· Loss of interest in things one cares about.
· Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
· Making arrangements; setting one's affairs in order.
· Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
12. How can we contact you to learn more about Perfecting Touch Ministries and Lady D’s Academy?
13. Is there anything else you would like to share?
If you would like to donate or support the cause for Lady D’s Academy you can do so at our website.