Every October, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) holds its annual Red Ribbon Week (RRW) Campaign to honor fallen DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” S. Camarena, and to remind Americans that we all can live healthy lives without drugs.
The name Kiki Camerena may be familiar to some of you if you’ve watched Narcos: Mexico on Netflix, but there’s much more to his story and how the Red Ribbon Campaign came to be. Shortly after Kiki’s death at the hands of drug traffickers in 1985, individuals came together to memorialize Kiki and formed “Camarena Clubs” in Kiki’s hometown of Calexico, CA. Hundreds of the club members wore red ribbons and pledged to live drug-free lives to honor the sacrifices made by Kiki and others. The campaign gained momentum in the following years, and in 1988 made its way to Washington, D.C. where it was formalized and received presidential recognition. In 2020, RRW remains one of the largest, oldest, and most successful substance abuse prevention campaigns in the United States.
During the week of October 23 – 31, you’re invited to wear red and to pledge to live healthy, drug-free lives. A pledge can as simple as talking to your kids and loved ones about the dangers of drug use, wearing something red during the week, trying a new exercise class, learning how to cook a healthy new recipe, or just taking a moment to reflect and honor those who have lost their lives and those who continue to fight in the pursuit of making our country healthy and drug-free. For more information about the campaign and Kiki’s story, check out the resource available at www.dea.gov/redribbon and share your efforts on social media using the hashtags #DEARedRibbon and #GoRed4RedRibbon.
The unexpected challenges brought on by a global pandemic cause not only fear of contracting the Coronavirus, but also stress and anxiety. Increased caretaking responsibilities as schools closed, the economic impact of a reduced workforce, the confinement of social-distancing, and the uncertainty of not knowing when life will return to normal, create the perfect storm for mental health challenges. During Mental Health Awareness Month, AHCCCS reminds members that mental health resources are available and mental health services covered.
Stress and anxiety can be different for different people and can include difficulty sleeping or concentrating, changes in eating patterns, or increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other substances.
Make time to unwind. Try to do activities you enjoy.
Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you feel.
Get the health care you need. Contact your health care provider to discuss consulting options during the pandemic such as telehealth.
Check on your neighbors who live alone; those living in isolation are at greater risk for depression and suicidal thoughts.
Continuing mental health treatment during this time is extremely important, as symptoms can increase during a crisis. Virtual group or individual therapy and phone consultations are some of the ways health care providers are serving those in need.
If you or someone you know is experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety or depression, get help.
International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, Saturday, November 23, is an occasion for survivors to join together for healing and support through their shared experience. Originally designated in 1999, the weekend before Thanksgiving is always recognized as Survivor Day since the holidays can be a difficult time of remembrance for those who have lost loved ones to suicide.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) coordinates over 300 events in the United States and worldwide, recognizing that this issue affects people from all walks of life. This year two events will be held in Arizona–in Tempe and Sierra Vista. While each event is different, all will feature a short AFSP documentary that shows families navigating the loss of a parent, child, sibling, or friend, in all different stages of grief. Regardless of one’s place in healing, Survivor Day aims to connect people to a network of communities that understand grief through shared experiences.
This year’s documentary is titled Pathways to Healing: Hope after Suicide Loss, and follows a community’s healing journey following the loss of a son, brother, and friend: Chris Taddeo. Watch the trailer here.
On Survivor Day, take time to recognize your own strength and the strength of those around you. Recognize those that have been in ultimate despair and managed to carry on; recognize those that are finding their own path to their new normal. If you need help, seek it. If you want to talk about your loss, talk about it freely.