12 Loudoun Brewers Collaborate for Suicide Prevention

A dozen Loudoun breweries have collaborated on a new brew to both break the stigma and raise funds to help prevent death by suicide.

All proceeds from the new You Are Not Alone session IPA will be donated to the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It will be available in cans and on draft at the participating breweries: Bear Chase, Belly Love, Beltway, Black Hoof, Dynasty, Hillsborough, Loudoun Brewing, Ocelot, Old 690, Old Ox, Quattro Goombas, and Wheatland Springs in mid-October.

The brewers met at Old Ox Brewery in Sterling on Wednesday morning to get the brewing started, using all donated, often local ingredients including yeast from Jasper Yeast and hops from Fabbioli Cellars and other local farms and breweries. Loudoun artist Randy Krukles, who also designs artwork for Purcellville’s Belly Love Brewing Company, is donating a design for the cans. And the grains and malt were donated by BSG CraftBrewing, a national provider of bulk brewing supplies headquartered in Minnesota.

Loudoun County Brewers Association Chair Chris Suarez, general manager of Bear Chase Brewery, said the goal is not only to raise money but to make suicide easier to talk about. Brewers association Vice Chair Tolga Baki, Belly Love owner and Hillsborough Vineyards & Brewery co-owner and head brewer, agreed.

“I think it’s important for people to understand. That’s how we named the beer,” he said. “They’re not alone. There’s a lot of times when people are in that mindset, they do feel alone, and I think there’s also a stigma about reaching out for help.”

American Foundation of Suicide Prevention National Capital Area Chapter Executive Director Ellen Shannon said almost everyone’s lives are impacted by suicide—and in that’s true in the tight-knit brewing community, with at least four lives have been lost just in the past few years, including a brewer in Loudoun.

According to the AFSP, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S., and almost 46,000 Americans died by suicide in 2020. There were 1.2 million attempts. But Shannon also said there is help, and there is hope.

“Suicide is preventable, and there is a lot of hope around this,” she said. “Research has shown that through education, through breaking down stigma, and raising awareness can all lead to cultural shift which can all change how we feel about mental health and how we approach suicide.”

Talking to the brewers gathered Wednesday, she used the same words—“You are not alone.”

“We can work together to create a culture that’s smart about mental health, break down the stigma and encourage help-seeking,” Shannon said. “Because just like those numbers that I shared, we are not alone. None of us are. Every single person has mental health, and there are things that we can do to be resilient and to take care of ourselves.”

And the charity brew also helped the brewers feel a little less alone after two long years of distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the first big collaboration for the Loudoun County Brewers Association since the beginning of the pandemic, reuniting over an important cause.

“Our association hasn’t done as much together recently, and we felt that this was a close enough to home cause to try to bring the breweries back together,” Suarez said.

Baki said following two recent deaths in the brewing community, one by suicide and both tied to mental health, many brewers already have regular get-togethers.

“We just sit there, have a couple beers, talk, check up on each other—it does get kind of personal sometimes, but that’s kind of the point,” he said. “We don’t want to see any more of this. And at least us, in our little, small community, get together and support each other.”

That also helps lift the stigma and taboo around asking her help, he said.

“It’s not a sign of weakness. People sometimes think, ‘it’s going to make me look weak,’” Shannon said. “The truth is, it takes incredible strength to ask for help. So it really is truly a sign of strength.”

The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention is the largest funder of suicide prevention research in the world, she said. The nonprofit also provides education and community programs, advocates for laws that can save lives, and provides support for people who have lost someone by suicide.

Learn more about the AFSP National Capital Area Chapter and the services it offers, volunteer or donate at afsp.org/NCAC. To find local suicide prevention resources, go to loudoun.gov/suicideprevention. If you are in crisis, call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (800-273-8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

2 thoughts on “12 Loudoun Brewers Collaborate for Suicide Prevention

  • 2022-09-22 at 2:32 pm

    People who abuse alcohol are up to 120 times more likely to commit suicide.
    29% of people who commit suicide had alcohol in their system.

  • 2022-09-22 at 3:33 pm

    How nice that Loudoun’s breweries would think to do something like this. It reaffirms my belief that Loudoun is the Land of Love. This month is National Suicide Prevention Month. So the effort is particularly poignant. Here’s hoping for great success. Welcome to Fall Loudoun!

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