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Hiding In Plain Sight: A Mother & Daughter’s Testimony Of Building Bridges


Healthcare Hiding In Plain Sight: A Mother & Daughter’s Testimony Of Building Bridges Hansa Bhargava Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Senior Medical Director at WebMD and Medscape, Author and Pediatrician May 18, 2022, 03:42pm EDT | Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin Samira Dean & Majee Samira Dean Samira Dean will always remember the day her daughter graduated from high school. Like most parents, she was beaming as she looked at her child wearing her cap and gown. But for her this was much more than graduation – it was her vision and end goal, with many years in the making; a journey besot with homelessness, gang violence, and a suicide attempt. Ultimately overcome with courage, perseverance, and faith. Growing up in the streets of San Diego, Samira grew up in a culture of stress, violence, and gang warfare. It was normalized, she states, to be part of a gang and it cycled through generations of people who would be born into that way of living. “There were only two outcomes if you stay in that lifestyle – death or prison.” According to a recent report by the CDC, gun violence is the leading cause of death amongst youth, and per a recent report in JAMA Pediatrics, 62% of these youth deaths occur in impoverished counties. At 18, she left home with her baby because she felt she was not getting the love she needed from her family. It would be a tough few years, being homeless and sleeping on a different couch every few days. She would sometimes use her welfare check to pay for a hotel room for herself and her young daughter. When she became incarcerated for theft, she felt she hit rock bottom. In jail, she struggled to find answers and turned to the bible and prayers to help her find her way. After being in jail for 85 days awaiting her prison sentence, she felt her prayers had been answered when the judge decided to set her free. Seeing this as a chance to change, she gathered her courage and moved herself across the country with her child to Atlanta, away from family and gangs. Although she made a radical change, there were to be many challenges ahead. Samira put a down payment of 2 months to rent a small apartment, found a job, and settled her daughter, Majee, in school. Unfortunately, soon after, she received some bad news. Her 10-year-old daughter’s uncle, to who her child was very close, was murdered. It was a domino effect for her daughter. Not only did she lose her close uncle, but her dad also withdrew from her life as he tried to cope with the death. Majee, coping with the move, the death, and the changes started acting out, and one day Samira received a terrible call from her friend, who told her that Mae, who was now 15, had tried to take her life. Suicide, in youth, is the second leading cause of death, and over 15% of teens have seriously considered suicide. The Jed Foundation, whose vision is to prevent suicide and resiliency in youth, has a comprehensive proven approach that includes social connectedness, such as community, crisis management, and the development of life skills. Samira found some of those assets in a church community in Roswell, GA. MORE FOR YOU CDC: Salmonella Outbreak Has Left 279 Ill, 26 Hospitalized In 29 States Canadians End Up In ICU After Attending ‘Covid Party’ White House Mandates Pfizer Vaccines for Millions of Citizens …Before the FDA Clinical or Safety Reviews Have Been Made Public Distressed, troubled, and trying to cope with this alone, Samira reached for the lifeline that she felt had helped her through rough times before prayers and church. She found a church that had a wonderful pastor in a new area of town, who took the time and nurtured them with support and mentoring. “I needed community as a single mom. The pastor, after preaching, would take the time to talk to my daughter.” The church also granted them scholarships for Majee to attend summer programming there. Majee started changing. Soon, not only was she back at school, but she joined cheerleading and got a job at a restaurant. Majee was incredibly grateful to her mom and the church, stating “I love church; they are the true representation of family for me.” Samira is now involved in helping others find courage and support. She preaches at different correctional facilities across Georgia and is the Head Leader of the Prison Ministry at her church, World Harvest Church. She hopes to have her own non-profit organization in the future to help those leaving prison and their families. When asked about what advice she would give to others who are struggling, she passionately states ‘Trust in God with all your heart…he will see you through…and stay encouraged.’ She added, “I would also say these three things. Don’t give up on your child; love your kids. Also, be the change you want to see in your child. And lastly, find a village to support you. It takes everyone.” The “Hiding in Plain Sight” Blog is a series leading to the upcoming 2022 documentary Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness, produced and directed by Ewers Brothers Productions, executive produced by Ken Burns, and presented by WETA, the PBS flagship station in our nation’s capital, premiering on June 27 & 28 at 9/8c in primetime on PBS stations nationwide. #WellBeings #WellBeingsLive You are not alone. If you or someone you know is in crisis, whether they are considering suicide or not, please call the toll-free National Suicide Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor. If you don’t want to talk on the phone, you can also text. Crisis Text Line offers free mental health support. Text “10-18” or “SCRUBS” to 741741 for help. The call and text lines are open 24 hours a day. Follow me on Twitter . Check out my website or some of my other work here . Hansa Bhargava Editorial Standards Print Reprints & Permissions

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