by Terry Rogers
Lorrie Coverdale says that talking about mental health should not be uncomfortable. It is with this in mind she has planned A Comfortable Conversation with Kevin Hines at Polytech High School on May 22.
“We need to stop hiding from a discussion about mental illness,” Coverdale said. “This is going to be an upbeat, open discussion about how mental illness impacts families. Kevin tried to take his own live at the age of 19, after a life of PTSD and depression. Now, he is a motivational speaker who talks about how suicide is not the answer.”
Coverdale is a strong advocate when it comes to mental health. In 2013, two police officers and a counselor knocked on her door to inform her that her son, Kenny, who graduated from Milford High School, had killed himself at the age of 22.
At the time, her son had not been diagnosed with mental illness, but as she pieced together what happened, she learned that her son was depressed. It was what led her to form the Kenny Moore Foundation. The aim of the organization is to reduce the stigma of mental illness and create a safe zone where families are able to talk openly about suicide and mental health.In an effort to help people understand that mental health is a critical issue, Coverdale has arranged for Hines to speak at Polytech. Hines has been named one of CNN’s Champions of Change and is part of a CNN series that was aired on May 18.
On May 22, the doors open at 5:30 PM with Hines available to greet guests and sign his book “Cracked Not Broken.” In addition, there will be people available from the Mental Health Association of Delaware to talk about mental health in the state.
“Kevin’s speech is about how he lives mentally well,” Coverdale said. “He uses an upbeat and positive method to discuss how people need to talk openly about mental illness and the challenges it presents. After his speech, there will be a candid question and answer session.”
Coverdale’s son, Kenny Moore, was a child who loved sports and was always the class clown. After a fall that left his left side numb during a roller hockey game, Moore was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a neurological condition where the bottom part of the brain bulges out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on the brain and spine. In addition, he was diagnosed with syringomyelia, a condition in which fluid-filled cysts develop inside the spinal cord. At 14, Moore underwent surgery to remove a small section of bone from the back of his skull and another surgery in 2009 after he developed problems with his eyes.
Coverdale said they never talked about the mental part of his injuries, only the physical part but that her son seemed happy. Moore had a great job and seemed happy until August 22, 2013. Coverdale met with her son at a dealership because his truck was in for service. At around 6 PM, she texted him to have a good time as he was going out with friends. Early the next morning, after texting friends and his cousin, Marty, Moore killed himself.
“I want people to open up and talk about mental health,” Coverdale said. “It should not be a taboo subject. We need to discuss how to talk to children about mental health and when to bring up the subject of suicide. It has been hard for me to open up about what happened to my son but I don’t want any other mother to go through what I have. We need to keep this rolling and help parents know the warning signs.”
Coverdale said that 100 percent of the proceeds from her organization go back into helping others who may be silently struggling with mental illness. Her goal is to promote things that work and not those that don’t work.
“Parents need to stop thinking that talking about suicide is wrong,” Coverdale said. “Talking about it does not encourage them to do it but talking about could keep them from doing it. We have to remove the stigma of mental health. We need a open up and realize that talking about it could actually save lives.
The doors at Polytech open at 5:30 PM with Hines meeting and greeting attendees as well as signing books. MHA and NAMI of Delaware will be on hand to speak to guests about the agency and the resources available. At 6:30 PM, the Kenny Moore Foundation will talk about their services and Robert Dunleavy, Director of the Division of Children, Youth and Families for the State of Delaware will explain the services they offer for young people suffering from mental illness.
“Kevin will be the keynote speaker an will focus on his “Ripple Effect” and how he lives “mentally well,” Coverdale said. “Most importantly, he will focus on how we need to talk openly about mental illness and its multitude of challenges. That will be followed by a Q&A session. The event is free but we are asking for a headcount.”
Registration is available at https://www.eventbrite.com/kenny-moore-foundation-19977022085. For more information, visit www.kennymoorefoundation.org.