Franklin James Cook

Attempt Survivor Finds Self-Help Support in DBSA

In Mental Illness, Postvention on July 18, 2009 at 7:41 am

Reporter Paula Rhoden of the Prescott Daily Courier tells the story of Joel Kobren, whose bipolar disorder drove him to a suicide attempt and whose recovery connected him with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), where he is now a leader in the self-help movement for people with depression in Arizona.

Kobren encountered DBSA after his nearly-lethal attempt led to discovering the nature of his mental and emotional challenges:

Finally, after 58 years, doctors diagnosed him with bipolar disease, a diagnosis that truly changed his life. Kobren said he was no longer an “underachiever” who could not keep a job or maintain a relationship; there was a real reason for his “mood swings.”

As part of his therapy, Kobren started looking for a self-help group. He said “suicide survivor” groups were really grief groups for families and friends of people who committed suicide … Kobren said he could not find what he really needed — a depression group. Kobren’s search led him to the national Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

Kobren is now involved, along with Henry Willey, president of the DBSA Yavapai County Chapter and others, in developing a statewide DBSA organization that they hope, in turn, will develop chapters throughout Arizona, each with its own peer-led support group.

Peer groups allow people to talk to others dealing with depression or bipolar disease, and learn what may or may not work, Willey said.

“DBSA is not a 12-step program and it is not a therapy group. It is just peers helping peers … Personally, I have been bipolar since elementary school but was not diagnosed until I was 35 years old. I have been through everything.”

Kobren said, “DBSA gave me the avenues to fulfill the goals I set as part of my recovery. As an organization, it has opened doors and been very welcoming. At the same time, there is no pressure. DBSA does not expect anything from me. It just opened the next door for me to go through when I am ready.”

SPNAC readers can search for a DBSA support group near them at this site.

[The abridged URL for this post is .]

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  1. Paula Rhoden’s article was excellent and can be viewed in it’s entirety at (search for “DBSA” and expand criteria back to 7/1/09). The sooner it is recognized that Depression is a fatal disease and that Suicide cannot be seperated from it (that Suicide does not exist without Depression), the sooner people will be able to seek help, realizing what it is that has taken over their brain, their thoughts and their emotions.

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