By Jenny Paulson – Shock rippled through the Pueblo community as headlines recently blared news about a 42 year old woman and her 10-year-old daughter, found dead in their Pueblo West home. Many were horrified after the Pueblo Sheriff’s Department, along with a team of Colorado Bureau of Investigations agents, ruled the case a murder/suicide, saying that evidence indicated that they were the only two in the home when this happened, despite speculations that it could be otherwise.
Law enforcement says Jennifer Hamula used a gun to repeatedly shoot her ten year old daughter, Stephanie, her two dogs, and herself. As the story broke, it traumatized not only her family, who knew she was going through a heated divorce, but also co-workers that Hamula worked with at the Department of Corrections for about 20 years, many of whom couldn’t believe that she would do this. Her soon to be ex husband was interviewed and released the same day the mother and daughter were found, some still question the investigation, and one family member plus co-workers say they want further details to confirm what happened. Sheriff Kirk Taylor told the media, despite what he thinks is enough evidence, that the investigation is still ongoing, with more forensic testing expected to take weeks.
Suicide is a stigmatizing enough subject, let alone in a situation like this, that quickly hit state-wide news as family watched what they called a “media circus” as this happened to their family member. But suicide is a subject being discussed more openly in Pueblo due to an increasing number that have made the news in the past few years, including a string of youth suicides in Pueblo early this year, which that led to a community crisis addressed by various organizations since.
When suicides happen, friends and family members have a difficult time navigating through the tragedy of loss. But more are talking openly and those who work in the field think that such public discussion is a good thing. A week in September, declared National Suicide Prevention Awareness week, is a time in which those in the industry bring awareness to the subject, sharing resources and stories to shed light on the sensitive topic and what services there are available to help friends and family cope with deaths, and prevent more suicides in our community.
In Pueblo there are various events being planned including two featured in this article: a formal presentations by Dr. Scott Walmer and Donna Gonzales Thursday, September 14 at Rawlings Library from 5:30-7:30 pm to learn how to “save a life and screen a loved one for suicide.” There will be local resource booths and giveaways for suicide prevention, bullying prevention, and mental health awareness. The event is free, open to the public and is sponsored by the Pueblo City-County Health Department, which can be reached at 719-583-4330.
A less formal event, with all proceeds gong to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is being hosted by Carl Barney, a well known local local tattoo shop owner and artist, who lost his grown daughter to suicide this year. The event, called “The Nicole Lynn Memorial, My Story Isn’t Over Tattoo Fundraiser,” will be held September 10, on Suicide Prevention Day at Dragon’s Lair Tattoo Studio at 1707 S. Prairie (719-560-0901) starting at 10 am. Local tattoo artists and volunteers will help give reduced cost tattoos and will auction off items to raise money for suicide prevention.
Earlier this year there was a Suicide Prevention Run/Walk at CSU-Pueblo and we can publicize other events as they are publicized and near.
A local suicide hotline is still in the google system and on certain websites but it was shut down due to lack of funding so a website was launched pro-bono for the community by Jenny Paulson, activist who started Take Back Pueblo and publisher of the expanding Southern Colorado Independent, early this year to ensure that locals have listings of all know resources available in immediate situations. The website is a community service directory and referral service with no local line or non profit fundraisers related to it – believed to be updated – if not contact Jenny Paulson at 719-423-0386 or www.PuebloSuicidePrevention.org.
www.SouthernColoradoIndependent.com is an online alternative magazine covering Pueblo and the surrounding area. Jenny Paulson, publisher has lived in Pueblo for twelve years, and previously owned alternative niche magazines in Northwest Colorado over a decade. She has been an activist, campaign manager and helped author the ballot issue that would provide police and community programs to help Pueblo become a role model turnaround city if it wins in November – the Citizens Violence and Crime Reduction Act of 2017.