Dennis Liegghio was 14 years old when he lost his father to suicide, and their last words were in anger. He blamed himself for his dad’s death and struggled with his own depression and thoughts of suicide for many years. A song that he wrote about this experience was a turning point towards healing, and the inspiration for founding KnowResolve. Today, Dennis shares his story, his song, and his mission with thousands of teens and young adults each year hoping to connect those who are suffering in silence with the message that with help comes hope. In this powerful and inspiring presentation, Dennis openly shares his personal story, his music, and the fundamentals for suicide prevention.
Topics covered include:
• Facts and myths about suicide
• Risk factors and warnings signs for suicide
• Available resources
• Tips for coping with emotional distress
Since 2007, Dennis has spoken nationally to nearly 100,000 students, parents and staff at hundreds of middle schools, high schools, college campuses, churches, businesses and community events.
Hello Dennis, I’m not sure if you remember me. We talked for a short period of time when earlier this fall you came to speak at Alma College. I was the one girl who stood up in that room and told my story about having bipolar disorder. Well, if you remember me, I just wanted to say thank you for coming that day to Alma College and speaking to all of us. This last week was a terrible time of depression for me, and I even attempted suicide on Monday. After it happened, I went to counseling and wellness center here at Alma and they designed my safety plan that you yourself brought to our campus. While designing my safety plan, I thought about you. I thought about how you thanked me for still being alive. Even after this past Monday, I’m still alive. And I have you to thank for that. Now I will have the safety plan for the next time I feel that suicide is the answer. Sincerely, Alexis
Dennis’ story is hard to listen too. It caused many of my students to deal with serious internal struggles. It created a need for additional staff to work with these students. It compelled students and staff members to reflect upon their life choices and the impact of those choices on themselves and others. It resulted in many phone calls to my office. I could not have been more pleased. – Ronald C. Miller (Principal, St. Clair High School)
Dennis, thank you so much for your tireless compassion for our students. To give of yourself the way that you do, day after day, is a gift to all of us that we will never be able to repay you for. Many students gave positive comments throughout the day yesterday. Yes – we have had a couple needing further assistance – but that’s the point. They felt comfortable talking about their need for help. Thanks for prompting that. We appreciate all you do for kids – especially ours at Middle School East! – Doreen Gierach (Counselor, L’Anse Creuse Middle School East)
During this holiday break I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know that while I regret I myself was not able to make the parent assembly due to a schedule conflict, our student Lydia, shared with us what she learned about the student assembly regarding depression and suicide. I think this was and is a very worthwhile venue to educate the community about this mental health issue that affects many young adults. Real life stories from people “who have been there” is always an extremely meaningful way to learn about these topics. Lydia shared with us at dinner that night about the causes and signs leading to depression and suicide, and the role drugs play in it. Our son-in-law was our dinner guest that night. He has a brother that has tried to commit suicide twice already. This was a special opportunity to open and discuss this difficult topic and to help us all to be sensitive and aware to people we know who may be struggling privately with depression or suicide. We are grateful that Dennis is willing to share his difficult story and the decision WLCSD made to invite him to do so. Thank you, Holly R. (Parent, Walled Lake Schools)
Dear Dennis, Thank you for bringing your powerful message to the students, staff and community of Capac High School. The presentation on suicide, depression, despair and how to cope with and get help for these issues had a strong impact on the people in our school. Sharing the different methods for coping and working through these issues had a great impact. Sharing your story with us also sent a message that there is help out there for people with struggles, there is a healing process and that there is HOPE for everyone who is struggling with some issue in their lives. I especially liked that you ended your presentation with the following statement: “Be kind to others”. Being kind to others can make a big difference in anyone’s life. I am certain that your words helped a our kids out yesterday. Thank you for sticking your neck out and sharing your story. You are truly inspirational and a success story! – Mike Mrozinski (Capac High School Principal)
“Dennis, I want to thank you and let you know that your latest presentation to the students here at Chippewa Valley high school was OUTSTANDING!!!. You have always done a fantastic job sharing information with our students, but this year was exceptional. I did not think that it could get any better than it already was. But you did it!! You spoke to our students in terms that they understood. You presented relevant and pertinent information that felt meaningful to them. The fact that they were completely silent and attentive throughout the presentation is a testament to how truly significant it was for them. Your commitment and compassion regarding the topic of teen depression and suicide was evident and empathically felt by everyone in the audience. Your willingness to share your own personal experiences and truths allowed students to relate and understand why you were standing before them. You change teen lives every day and that certainly was the case this year when you presented at our high school. Those students who felt depressed and suicidal, now feel hopeful. Those students who never understood how painful depression could feel, now get it. Those students who thought they had to keep the “secret”, now feel free to speak. Thank you for your time, commitment, compassion and sincerity regarding a very serious and important topic.” – Suzanne Spurr, Ph.D., LPC (Counselor, Chippewa Valley High School)
“Dennis, We want to thank you for your dedication to the cause of supporting the emotional needs of young people. Your consistent efforts have helped us maintain a positive and supportive school climate. The resources you and your organization provide are focused and effective in communicating the message of overcoming the challenges of growing up. We would recommend your talks and services to any school that intends to create an environment of growth and trust.” – Daniel Lawrence, Ph.D., LPC (Counselor, Chippewa Valley High School)
“We had the honor to have Dennis come to our school and give his presentation to our students and staff. As part of Youth Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month in Michigan, Alma College and Kayla Roy helped bring Dennis to us. Dennis brings personal experience, honesty, emotion and a real connection to everyone to his presentation. He talks to the students. He connects to every person that has had any experience, any thoughts, any need to know more. Like substance abuse, addictions, physical abuse and neglect, his willingness to bring the real story about suicide and the resources to help deal with the issue is essential. He is the proof that there needs to be a forum for all of us to talk about the hard subjects. He is one who will not allow the difficult issues to be swept under the rug with the hope that it will all just go away. I admire his courage, his character, his heart. There are many, many people out there that have an important message of hope to share. We, the Sharks of St. Louis High School, are another group that is very thankful that Dennis cares enough to share his message of hope and life with us.” – Chris Macklin (Principal, St. Louis High School)
“Thank you for coming to Oakland University. The work you do is so inspiring. It is always tough to talk about a subject like this, but it was a presentation we needed to hear. Hope to have you back again soon!” – Meredith (student), Oakland University
“Dennis – First off, on behalf of ASMSU, UAB and ACS, I want to say THANK YOU for coming to Michigan State University! It would be great to have you back in the future because you are sending a great message and you’re a survivor, and a positive role model for those struggling with depression. Thank you again!” – Ann (student), Michigan State University
“I have been a professional in the mental health field for over 18 years and I have seen hundreds of educational presentations but this one is at the top of my list! Dennis is the perfect mix of reality, entertainment, emotion, and hope.” – Laura Farwell (Organization/Community Education and Development Supervisor, CNS)
“Dennis’ presentation is very personal, heart-wrenching and hopeful. While I understand that the word ‘hopeful’ seems out of place as a descriptor, it’s very true that attendees will come away from the program feeling empowered.” – Carrie Bearss (Student Activities Coordinator, St. Clair County Community College)
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April 8th: Suicide: The Silent Epidemic Conference
April 12th: Centerline High School
April 13th: Beaumont Community Health Coalition
April 22nd: Michigan Association of Disability Examiners 2016 Conference
May 5th: Ann Arbor Schools Nursing Program
All information on KnowResolve.org is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. KnowResolve does not provide direct counseling services, if you are in crisis, and need to speak with someone immediately, please call 1-800-273-8255.