LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang is collaborating with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for a unique paint scheme at the Las Vegas race on Sept. 26. The awareness initiative is intended to facilitate conversations among friends and loved ones regarding mental health. This includes sharing that free and confidential resources are available at any time by calling the Lifeline number, 1-800-273-8255, which will be printed on the car’s hood for the race.
The importance of mental health in the United States, including the motorsports community, has become increasingly apparent in recent years, especially in the last 18 months amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing organization has felt the impact of individuals faced with mental crises, which in some instances has resulted in suicide.
“Mental health is equally as important as physical health, which is why the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team and Wood Brothers Racing have decided to raise awareness for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and its services,” said Jon Orth, Marketing Manager for Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD). “Personally, I lost a close friend to suicide earlier this year, and the more I think and talk about it, the more I wish I could have identified warning signs. Motorcraft and Wood Brothers Racing are working together to use our platform in NASCAR to educate the public with existing resources available to respond to family and friends who may be confronted with mental health concerns.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline seeks to reach and serve all people in the United States who could be at risk of suicide, and one of the ways the organization does this is by spreading the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide. The Lifeline and its network of over 180 crisis centers across the country are working to change the conversation from suicide to suicide prevention, and to promote healing, help and hope.
“Our family is proud to support the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline because we feel strongly about the importance of addressing mental health,” said Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing. “We have a duty to our family, friends and colleagues to ask, ‘how are you doing today?’ Then we have to really listen and respond to the answer.”
The campaign #BeThe1To empowers individuals to use five steps, if and when they are concerned about a loved one. The five steps are:
Ask: Studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. In fact, studies suggest the opposite: findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.
Be There: This could mean being physically present for someone, speaking with them on the phone when you can, or any other way that shows support for the person at risk.
Keep Them Safe: After the “Ask” step, and you’ve determined suicide is indeed being talked about, it’s important to find out a few things to establish immediate safety.
Help Them Connect: Helping someone with thoughts of suicide connect with ongoing supports (like the Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255) can help them establish a safety net for those moments they find themselves in a crisis. Additional components of a safety net might be connecting them with supports and resources in their communities.
Follow Up: After your initial contact with a person experiencing thoughts of suicide, and after you’ve connected them with the immediate support systems they need, make sure to follow-up with them to see how they’re doing. Leave a message, send a text, or give them a call.
“It’s an honor not only to be driving this racecar and paint scheme, but also to be a part of something so much bigger than just the race,” said Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang. “I have people very close to me who have struggled with mental health and loved ones who have contemplated taking their own lives. My faith has shown me the beauty of life and I am so excited to partner with Motorcraft/Quick Lane and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for an incredible cause that’s close to our hearts.”
Wood Brothers Racing will be offering a signed diecast of this paint scheme. For each diecast purchased from the Wood Brothers Racing website, 20% of the net proceeds will be donated to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
“For every person who dies by suicide annually, there are another 316 people who have thought seriously about suicide who don’t kill themselves. These stories remind us that help, hope, and healing are happening every day,” said Dr. John Draper, Executive Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. “We’re grateful to be working with Ford, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing and Wood Brothers Racing to highlight the resources that are available if you or a loved one are struggling.”