Deborah Casello is the President and Founder of KEYS 365, a group of highly skilled individuals dedicated to offering effective, personalized, cost-free assistance in an effort to prevent suicide. She also offers workshops designed to train volunteers to understand the best practices for assisting those in need.

In this episode, Deborah highlights the critical role of empathy and proactive support in suicide prevention. She stresses the importance of open dialogue and discussions around mental health, encouraging individuals to ask direct questions and actively listen to those struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. By providing practical tools and resources through KEYS 365’s community-based classes, her goal is to empower individuals to intervene early and effectively to support one another.

About KEYS 365:

KEYS 365 is a 501c3 nonprofit!  Classes are FREE, dynamic, highly interactive, presented at your location, and completed in 60-90 minutes. This makes suicide prevention accessible to even the busiest professionals, students, and community members.

Classes are designed to empower communities with tools to recognize, connect, and support others who may be struggling with factors that could lead to suicide. KEYS 365 workshops are free to any business, school, team, or group!

Contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if you are experiencing mental health-related distress or are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

Call or text 988

Chat at

Addressing Loneliness

In a world where loneliness and suicide rates are on the rise, Deborah Casello, the founder and CEO of KEYS 365, emerges as a beacon of hope. With a keen understanding of the gravity of suicide, she recognizes the vital importance of fostering uplifting conversations that inspire hope, action, and community support.

Deborah’s journey into suicide prevention education is deeply personal, rooted in her experiences as a military spouse navigating the challenges of deployments and post-traumatic stress. Witnessing the pervasive loneliness and isolation not only within military circles but also across diverse communities, she felt compelled to take action.

Driven by a heartbreaking incident at her children’s high school, where a student tragically took their own life, Deborah recognized the urgent need for comprehensive education and support. This pivotal moment propelled her into becoming a dedicated trainer, traveling across Alaska to empower communities with the knowledge and tools to effectively support one another.

Despite the inherent challenges, Deborah’s story underscores the power of education and collective support in suicide prevention. Through KEYS 365, she continues to advocate for meaningful connections and community-driven solutions, offering a glimmer of hope in the fight against loneliness and despair.

The Driving Force Behind KEYS 365

Deborah, the driving force behind KEYS 365, is on a mission to combat the loneliness epidemic. Their goal? To offer free classes designed to equip individuals with essential skills for supporting one another, a suggestion recommended by leading mental health organizations. These classes are meant for everyone and take place at various settings, from businesses to schools.

Christina Daves unfortunately understands this type of loss. She shares a time she attended a funeral for a young friend who died by suicide. Amidst her grief, Christina reflects on the signs that may have been missed. It’s important to recognize changes in behavior, especially among teenagers. 

For those in crisis or worried about someone in crisis, the 988 hotline is a vital resource.

While suicide is complex, there are many easy-to-use resources that offer support. Deborah is no stranger to navigating mental health resources—she reminds us that persistence is critical in finding the right help.

Through interactive exercises in their classes, Deborah and her team at KEYS 365 facilitate understanding and empower individuals to be present for those in need. They stress that while suicide prevention isn’t easy, showing compassion and being a supportive presence can make a world of difference.

In a world where mental health resources are evolving, Deborah’s message resonates: we don’t have to have all the answers, but we can offer care, support, and encouragement to those who need it most.

Prevention and Collective Action

Like many instinctually do, Christina admits her desire to want to fix things when someone is going through a tough time. The approach at KEYS 365; however, isn’t about fixing but rather about offering companionship and support.

While crisis intervention is essential, KEYS 365 focuses on the long road leading up to a crisis point. They aim to intervene early, providing support for issues that, if left unattended, could lead to thoughts of suicide. The mission of KEYS 365, encapsulated in its acronym KEYS (Knowledge & Empathy Yield Strength), is to equip individuals with tools they can use every day to support themselves and others.

Their approach is community-centered, capitalizing on the power of collective action. Instead of receiving information in isolation, they believe in integrating empathy into suicide prevention efforts within the community. By emphasizing shared human experiences and emotions, they bridge the gap between different life circumstances, fostering connection and support.

Ultimately, their message is one of solidarity and understanding. Rather than seeing ourselves as separate from those in crisis, they encourage us to empathize and offer our presence and support, knowing that even small gestures of care can make a significant difference in someone’s life.

The Power of Vulnerability and Empathy

There is great power when people allow themselves to be vulnerable and open. Deborah emphasizes the importance of simple actions such as word choice and phrases in building connections. Openly and safely addressing the topic of suicide can help early intervention efforts and foster support.

In their classes, KEYS 365 provides practical tools to help people find their voice and engage with others who may be struggling. Their resources include things like sample dialogues that can help in difficult situations for people having a hard time. Even if you’re unsure or stumble over your words, what matters most is showing that you care enough to ask and offer support.

Open Dialogue—Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Christina shares a personal anecdote about the importance of asking direct questions when it comes to suicide prevention. She recalls a conversation with Donna Rogers, founder of Morgan’s Message, who lost her daughter to suicide. Despite their open communication about various topics, Donna shared that they never directly asked her daughter if she was considering taking her own life.

Deborah echoes the significance of open dialogue and dispels the myth that talking about suicide encourages attempts. Although it may be uncomfortable to discuss, she emphasizes the importance of clear and direct questions. Deborah shares a touching moment when her son, after attending one of their classes, bravely asked her if she was considering suicide—an immense demonstration of genuine care and incredible courage.

Small Actions Can Save Lives

So, what should one do if someone admits to considering suicide? 

First, validate their feelings, then assess the level of crisis they’re in. It’s important to actively listen and attempt to understand before guiding them towards appropriate support—intervention is not an all-or-nothing scenario.

Even small gestures can be powerful, as human connection is incredibly important suicide prevention efforts.

Where to Find Help

As the episode draws to a close, Deborah shares that her greatest accomplishment since turning 50 lies in the pride she feels about her children’s achievements and the fulfillment she finds in the purposeful work of KEYS 365. Looking ahead, she envisions growing the organization into a sustainable entity that continues its mission of supporting and uplifting others.

To connect with her work and learn more about their mission, Christina encourages listeners to explore and consider bringing Deborah’s valuable program to their organizations. 

Remember, there is help out there for all—from KEYS 365 to the 988 hotline, people who care are a phone call away. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health-related distress, contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 

Call or text 988

Chat at

You are not alone.

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