There is Always Hope

Sam Stroozas , Staff Reporter

Suicide is never something easy to talk about or something anyone really wants to, but the La Crosse Area Suicide Prevention Initiative is leading us to open our eyes and have this overdue discussion. On Tuesday, September 19 – they hosted an event at Riverside Park to spread hope to the community that even if they are unsure where to turn, the city of La Crosse has their full support.

“There is hope, there is help, and there ARE resources,” Jenny Root, president of the board for suicide prevention initiative had utmost support for the people lost and impacted by suicide.

She shared that the goal is to “Advocate and educate the La Crosse community that suicide is preventable.”

While teaching in student affairs and being a mental health therapist on campus, Dr. Jeannie Hanley saw first-hand how suicide hits home for not only La Crosse, but UWL itself. Dr. Hanley described the problem of stigmatization on campus, “We need to reduce the stigma with mental illnesses, and get the word out that now is the time to create a greater awareness about the services that are available, and students to realize that is ok to ask for help..”

Not only is Dr. Hanley an advocate for student success mentally, she now helps with organizations such as the La Crosse Suicide Initiative to unbury the root of the stigma.

Dave Clements, founder of “Joe was just Joe” foundation, is a part of the funding for the suicide initiative event. Clements created the foundation in memory of his late son, Joe Clements, former UWL student. He shared where his passion comes from and why we need to see the numbers of suicide-related deaths lower, “My son died on March 10, 2008. The morning after, I decided that I had to do something about this, I had to save lives.”

Recalling the funeral, Clements adds, “When I was at the ceremony I turned around, and I saw Joe Gow, the chancellor of UWL and that really touched me. The whole community and school supported us.”

Clements started the foundation “Joe was just Joe” to remember those lost to suicide, heighten the awareness of mental health and as a way for people to help those in crisis. Clements has had the ability to leave a lifetime legacy in his son’s honor and stands as a living reminder that suicide changes not only the life of the lost but everyone around them.

If you or anyone you know are in need of services please contact the hotlines below.


HOPELINE for Wisconsin Residents (24/7 – Free – Trained Crisis Counselor)

Text “HOPELINE” to 741741
Franciscan Skemp Behavioral Health

Call: 608.791.9555 or 1.800.362.5454, ext 9555

Great Rivers 211 (24-hour crisis line and referral service)

Dial: 211 or 1.800.362.8255

Gundersen Lutheran Behavioral Health

Call: 608.775.2287 or 1.800.362.9567 ext 52287

La Crosse County Crisis Line

Call: 608.784.HELP (784-4357)

La Crosse County Resource Center

Call: 608.785.5700

Mental Health Coalition of the Greater La Crosse Area

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Call: 608.784.7532

La Crosse Family & Children’s Center

1707 Main Street
La Crosse, WI 54601

Black River Falls Family & Children’s Center

409 County Road R
Black River Falls, WI 54615

Viroqua Family & Children’s Center

1321 North Main Street
Viroqua, WI 54655

Winona Family & Children’s Center

66 East Third Street
Winona, MN 55987

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