Aug 18, 2015
If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the Funeral Pro Chat podcast with Jayme D. Jeter-Cameron about how funeral directors can help prevent violence, bullying and suicide, a portion of the interview was published in American Funeral Director. Jayme is a licensed funeral director at Jeter Funeral Home located in Detroit and President of the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association. In this podcast interview, Jayme sat down with Steven C Turner to discuss anti-bullying and anti-violence initiatives and the importance of funeral directors supporting the youth in their communities.
Funeral Pro Chat is a new podcast series where funeral professionals discuss funeral trends, news and customs. The goal of Funeral Pro Chat is to inform and enlighten funeral professionals on a range of subjects that interest them. American Funeral Director will periodically provide edited excerpts from the podcasts to spur the discussion on topical issues affecting the industry. Funeral Pro Chat is now also available on iTunes.
Funeral service, it’s not a job, it’s a calling.
Steven Turner chats with the President of The National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association, Jayme D. Jeter-Cameron about trying to prevent bullying and suicide.
Steven: Jayme, welcome. It’s an honor. Can you share a little with our readers?
Jayme: Thanks Steven. I am the 64th National President of the National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association; the 5th woman to serve as President and the 2nd person from Michigan which is where I am from. My family has owned and operated a funeral home since 1973, so I am a 3rd generation mortician. Steven: Besides your accomplishments in mortuary science, Jayme, I want to speak to you today on a subject that is close to all of us and a cause that you are deeply involved in-Bullying and Suicide amongst our teens- you were the keynote speaker for “Man UP Against Bullying” in Memphis, TN. last month.
Jayme: Yes, Steven this cause is one which the National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association has taken on as one of our primary national initiatives. We want it to be a clear message to the public, that as funeral directors we do not want to continue to bury our children. We feel strongly about re-educating our communities to stop the violence and bullying that unfortunately leads to the premature deaths of our children. When I was approached by Miss Tiffany Love who is the founder of “Man Up Against Bullying” and Miss Michelle Curtis who is the founder of the “Scared Stiff” Program in Nashville, I immediately wanted to be a part of this great movement.
Steven: I heard the convention was well received. Well done!
Jayme: I was proud to be the keynote speaker at the first National Youth Activist Awards which highlighted and honored the accomplishments of our young people ages 8 to 24. We feel that it’s just one way to allow our children to see that their hard work and involvement with their communities, their efforts to continue to avoid violence and violent behaviour and their commitment to academic achievement are not going unnoticed. We feel that by acknowledging them now, we are helping to detour from making future mistakes in their future and by encouraging them now; we are allowing them to hope to be able to see that it’s okay to embrace themselves and be the unique and exceptional people that they are. We want them to know that it’s okay to be viewed as different from the crowd and despite what anyone says that they are uniquely and wonderfully made.
Steven: Beautifully stated, Jayme. I think we all can agree that bullying is a growing problem and too many adults still see bullying as just being part of “being a kid.” It is a serious problem that leads to many negative effects for victims, including suicide. Many people may not realize that there is also a link between being bullied and committing suicide. Do you agree?
Jayme: Far too often adults are not getting involved with these situations until it is too late, and as adults we have to be able to step in and mediate these matters. Our young people have taken bullying to a whole new level and we as the protectors of our children, whether they are our own or children in our communities, must be willing to identify that there is a problem and offer solutions. We need to be on the forefront of teaching our children conflict resolution skills, letting them know that it is okay to walk away and reinforcing daily that, although words often times are cutting and hurtful, they are just words. As parents we need to be the ones reaffirming to our children their self- worth and telling them that their only limitations are ones they place upon themselves. You know, when my daughters were small I would often tell them, it doesn’t matter what anyone says about you. I wanted them to know that the only option that truly mattered was their opinion of themselves and as their mother I would always support any effort they made towards things that were positive.
Steven: Jayme as you know there are different types of bullying; the old fashioned bullying at schools & playgrounds and the new cyber bullying – harassment on social media that goes viral and leads to suicide many times. What are your thoughts?
Jayme: First, all bullying is bad. I never thought we would have gotten to a point, as a society, in which the old fashioned sense of bullying or the meet me on the playground threat would become a thing of the past and now our children have taken this cyber bullying to a whole new level. Whereas the old fashioned bullying you had to be face to face or in contact with the individual and you had to gain a confidence to face them. Now, over the computer you don’t have that individual interaction with the person and that leads to more exposure and more embarrassment for the young person who is involved. All you really need is one person to re-post or comment on a particular thread or video and unfortunately it goes viral. These are the cases in which our children feel overwhelmed and for that split second they make a decision to end their lives because they don’t know how to, or think they can’t face the shame and embarrassment they are dealing with.
Steven: Jayme, did you know that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among our young people resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. For every suicide among our young people there at least 100 attempts. Over 14% of high school students have considered suicide and 7% have attempted it. Now, bullying victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims. Your thoughts?
Jayme: Those are extremely alarming facts. That is why it is so important to have the Man Up Against Bullying Organization, The Scared Stiff Programs, the National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association, and other great organizations that are doing wonderful and valuable things in our community. It’s up to us to step in and start to reprogram the way our children are thinking, the mind-set they have of who they are and what they mean us as a family, and as community leaders. We need to be talking to our children and young people about suicide and stop keeping it as a taboo conversation. We need to be able to express how that split second decision ends a life. If they just think it through a little further or come and talk to someone that action will allow them to make good decisions which will not result in the loss of their lives. It starts with us, as the adults, as the community leaders and as people who are trying to help our children. We should not expect our children to fix this on their own. The point is, we need to stand in the gap for our children and be able to be the catalyst of the change. We need to see these numbers decrease. Now.
Steven: You said it before -we have to stop burying our children. Jayme, as you know years ago suicide was considered taboo & unheard of in the African American community. As a funeral director, have you seen an increase of bullying and suicide in the Black communities?
Jayme: Yes, we have seen an increase of suicides in the African American Community. That was one of the key reasons that we got involved at the N. F.D. & M. A. We wanted to make a change and it all leads back to the cyber bullying that we are seeing and just the overall violent culture that continues to be played out on TV. One of the things that we are finding out is that a lot of times these violence related deaths are the direct result of peer pressure and of others being bullied into actions that result in teens losing their lives.
Steven: Jayme, what can we all do to stop these kids from taking their own lives?
Jayme: Steven, besides stepping up as a community, we need to be mindful that the person who is doing the bullying typically is someone who is trying to deal with their own problems. So we also need to reach out to those who are engaging in bullying behaviour and see exactly what it is that makes them act this way. What is it that makes them feel its okay to threaten another person, to talk about another person or to do hurtful acts to another individual? Oftentimes we will find that these young people need to be reassured themselves of whom they are and that someone actually cares for them by actually showing them and getting involved with them. We need to get them involved in projects in the community that can help them better themselves. That’s one of the things we can do and constant listening, paying attention, being involved, and mediating if we have to. We have to stand up and be accountable for what happens in our community.
Steven: I couldn’t agree more. Most of the time funeral directors clean up the aftermath; after the damage is done & we have lost another promising child. What can funeral directors do?
Jayme: Steven, the NFDMA started the ‘Stop the Violence Rallies’. We use our hearses as a motorcade to draw attention & protest the senseless, violent deaths of our young people. In 2013 our past National President and current Chairman of the Board; Mr. Hall Davis IV implemented the use of motorcycles and motorcycle clubs in the motorcade along with the hearses. This was a brilliant idea because the young people are more apt to listen to people with whom they can identify. As for other funeral professionals, it is important that we are seen as not only people working in funeral service but as people actively living in and working for the good of our community.
Steven: I feel the same way Jayme. Bullying leads to suicide and it is something we should all ‘man up’ and help prevent. Some of the warning signs of suicide can include; showing signs of depression, withdrawal from others, losing interest in favourite activities, trouble sleeping or eating, talking about and showing an interest in death or dying, engaging in dangerous or harmful activities including reckless behaviour, substance abuse, self-injury, giving away favourite possessions & saying good bye to people. When they say and express that they just can’t handle things anymore and make comments that things would be better without them, that’s a red flag. If a person is displaying any of these symptoms talk to them about your concerns and get them help right away such as, a counsellor, doctor or the Emergency Room.
Jayme: We can no longer turn a blind eye to this matter & feel it’s not our place to get involved. This epidemic is a growing problem that is plaguing everyone in our community and we never know when it will be our family who could be affected next.
Jayme: Thank you Jamye for discussing this most important topic. Let’s eliminate bullying in our lifetime and save our children. How can our readers contact you and learn how they can get involved?
Jayme: They can go to our national website, www.nfdma.com. There they will be able to find my contact information.
Steven: You can contact me on Facebook or the Funeral Pro Chat page.
Click here to listen to the full podcast & hear the interview in its entirety
Funeral Pro Chat is a production of Burban Turner Media
© Nancy Burban 2015
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com