Our final Make a STATEment nominee for 2017 is Apryl Miller, who founded The Sky Center/ New Mexico Suicide Intervention Program 20 years ago as a response to the growing and damaging social issue of suicide in New Mexico. (According to a NM Epidemiology Report, suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24 in New Mexico and the third among youth 10-14.)
With a mission to enhance the protective factors that lead to reduced risk for youth suicide, the Sky Center has become an invaluable community resource where thousands of families have received family therapy free of charge and hundreds of social work and counseling graduate students have received professional training in family therapy. “Apryl is the angel and wise leader of an incredible force for health and hope in our community,” says the State ECU member who nominated this worthy New Mexican. Apryl conceived, created, and guides this agency that takes no federal funds; where families do not need insurance to receive services. Help is available for all families no matter what their social or economic status.
“I am humbled by this recognition from State ECU, but it also feels good,” she says. She adds that she is always amazed by the tremendous support by the community for their efforts. “Suicide and depression cross all social, economic, and geographic boundaries—everyone is vulnerable.” And whether an individual donates $10 or $1,000—the money is always put to great use. (Donations are accepted through the organization’s website)
Apryl’s dream for those who come through the doors in search of help is that they can find their own sense of hopefulness. “Many people who find their way to us are dealing with a great deal of pain. My wish for them is that they can create relationships that are held together through the ups and downs of life. And also find the power of gratitude.” She explains that one of the great tools at the center is “gratitude circles,” which she says generate a lot of good will and joy.