SHAWNEE, Kan. — Kelly and Bob Specht are facilitating conversation, creating a safe space and raising mental health awareness through Carl's Cause.
“You can talk about a broken leg, why can’t we talk about a mental health issue?” Kelly Specht said. “June 23rd of 2017, we lost our son Carl to suicide at the age of 27. He was a really amazing young man, and something we never ever would’ve dreamed would’ve happened to him."
The Spechts and Carl’s Cause have been on a mission the last few years to not only encourage conversation about mental health but to assist those struggling with mental health transition back into society after receiving care, partnering with Demetri Trautwein of The University of Kansas Health System.
“From discharging from inpatient psych to outpatient psych, I’m a bridge for therapy crisis management and case management services,” said Trautwein, a behavior health navigator. “There’s going to be extra stresses, of course, there is going to be concerns or things that come up, but that’s why I am here. To help them slowly retrain their brain on how to have positive coping skills, positive thinking, versus automatically reverting back to old ways.”
Carl’s Cause is also partnering with Transport Brewery, hosting an event Sunday, May 22, during mental health awareness month.
Evan Cummings, the brewery's assistant manager and a friend of Carl’s, is creating a new way to start the conversation through the Carl's Cause Three C's Pale Ale.
The Cs stand for:
- Creating awareness
- Combating stigma
- Connecting resources
“On the can, you’ll have four different resources that you can reach out to for suicide prevention. It’s on all the labels on the can, and it kind of gives you a little description about Carl as well," Cummings said. "If someone is drinking a beer and they see that on their can, someone might pop in their head that they are thinking about, or maybe themselves, so it's just something to kind of put out there."
While the Spechts will always carry the loss of their son, they are determined to use Carl’s Cause to save lives.
“He should be here today, you know he should be here," Kelly Specht said. "A lot of his friends are here, and they support us, which we really appreciate. That’s the hard part, but I know maybe his purpose was bigger and this is what it is.”