Suicide prevention personal for former reporter

Published 10:12 pm Thursday, August 1, 2019

As a reporter for WAVY News 10, Lauren Hope used to chase hurricanes, crime scenes and other stories across Hampton Roads.

Hope, who then went by the name Lauren Compton, did that from 2012 to 2014, but inside, she struggled with major depression and an anxiety disorder.

Hope said she survived a suicide attempt in May 2014, and about two months later, quit her job at WAVY and became homeless.

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She fell into a major depression and said she didn’t start to come from out of the darkness until late 2015, when she started taking antidepressant medication and began talk therapy. In spring 2016, she said, she felt spiritually called to share her story.

That has been her focus since. She refocused her blog, Good Girl Chronicles, to write more about her recovery, which she said helped launch her speaking career, a storytelling business and a day job as a peer specialist and mental health advocate.

Hope was diagnosed with anxiety disorder in her teens but was not able to talk about it with her family or friends. In her mid-20s, she started struggling with depression and was diagnosed with major depressive disorder — overeating, undereating, pulling out her hair, not wanting to get out of bed or showering. She knows now those things are big red flags, but she didn’t feel like she could talk about it, especially with a flourishing, yet stressful TV career.

“I felt like, why can’t I talk about this thing,” Hope said. “And so it made me feel really ashamed, and I thought I must be the only person struggling with this, because no one else is talking about it.”

After her suicide attempt, she stayed at a psychiatric hospital for five days, but said she didn’t get the care she needed at the time. She resigned a couple of weeks later from WAVY, and fell into a depressive state that she said lasted about two years. She gained 75 pounds, cut herself off from her friends, let go of her hygiene and essentially became a shut-in. But she found her way out of the darkness by finding the right medication and therapy, and she said she now has a great support group.

Since last October she has called the North Suffolk area home, and on Sept. 28, she will take part in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness walk at Bennett’s Creek Park. It’s the foundation’s largest fundraiser. She will be walking for herself and for another survivor, Robin Smith.

“When I got well and got really stable, part of what I wanted to do was to talk more about suicide prevention,” Hope said, “particularly for people of color, because I know that we just don’t have those discussions in the minority community.”

Two years ago, she volunteered at Norfolk’s Out of the Darkness Walk and was moved and uplifted by the experience, enough that she became a Talk Saves Lives presenter with the foundation, giving 45-minute talks about suicide prevention, warning signs and talking points.

Last August, she was nominated to the board for the Virginia chapter of the AFSP.

Her goal for the walk and for her work to help prevent suicide is to give people the tools to have a conversation about it and to be prevention-aware.

“My desire and mission for being on the board is to show people of color that AFSP is inclusive to minorities,” Hope said, “and then get the conversation about suicide prevention, the warning signs, how to get help to that community.”

Hope noted that a good portion of the walk’s proceeds stays in Suffolk, and she’s hoping for a strong turnout.

“We want people to come out and honor and remember people,” Hope said, “but also for people to donate, because that’s a way that you can (give) back to your community.”

Want to go?

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness walk takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 28. For more information, go to Registration is free and open to the public.