Kern County Mental Health hotline employee supporting those experiencing suicide in their families

Posted at 3:26 PM, Nov 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-21 22:51:39-05

While working at Kern County Mental Health, Ellen Eggert created a manual for her Survivor Outreach Team.

She constructed it knowing others would need the support after a loved one died by suicide. Her manual helped Ruby McNinch when her son, Chris, killed himself when he was just 30 years old.

As a member of Eggert's survivor group, McNinch saw firsthand the dedication Eggert has to supporting others dealing with the loss of a loved one due to suicide.

"It just meant so much to me that she was that intuitive just by looking at his picture," McNinch said. "She cared about us. She cared about our son."

A current employee of the Kern County Mental Health hotline, Eggert is able to relate so easily to others in her Survivor Outreach Team because she has experienced loss from suicide herself.

"It wouldn't have existed if my brothers hadn't passed away and my cousin," Eggert said.

Showing photos of her family, Eggert shared she had a great childhood but as she and her siblings grew up, the pain grew to overtake her brothers - and herself.

Eggert was diagnosed with bipolar-two disorder after attempting suicide at the age of 24.

"It seemed like the right answer because of that unbearable pain inside of me," Eggert shared. "The only respite I thought was available was death."

Her twin brother David killed himself at 41. Her older brother, Danny, killed himself at 39. And her cousin, Mary, died from suicide at the early age of 20.

"They're still a part of your life," Eggert said. "We talk about our loved ones all the time. So they're still a part of  your life, but in a different way."

Her perspective on life has changed and she wants to bring awareness to those suffering from mental illnesses. The wellbeing of Kern County motivates her, as well as the love for her family members she's lost.

"I have to do the right thing by them, for them," Eggert said. "I can't bring them back, but if I can help somebody else then I'll have found some good in it."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illnesses, the following resources are available: