The tragic loss of Alexander Hedlund is the bitter seed from which Robust Futures flourishes. Alexander Mitchell Hedlund was ten years into his US Coast Guard career when he lost a former shipmate and friend. He didn’t know how to bear the loss despite friends, family, a career, a house, and more. He died by his own hand 8 days later.
Alex’s parents, Robert and Terri Bogue, suffered in grief for their lost son. However, they were also confused, concerned, and conflicted. Alex was one of seven children. Robert and Terri had been taught what suicidal ideation was supposed to look like. They had the warning signs. They knew what to do. At least, that’s what they were told. They’d discover that the things they had been told to look for and the things they had been told to do were more fiction than fact. If Alex could take his life, then anyone could.
Terri’s a clinical nurse specialist. That’s an advanced practice nurse focused on changing the systems that connect patients, providers, and healthcare systems. Her experiences in infection prevention and quality taught her how to find causal factors and how to eliminate them.
Robert’s background includes a strong technology component. As a Microsoft MVP for 20 years, he’s spent his career finding ways to make things better. For the last half of his career, he’s taught organizations how to change – to be better. Woven through all of this work has been teaching and training. With author credit on 28 books, editor credit on 100 more, and countless courses created for corporate clients, he knew that changing suicide includes changing experiences and clarifying messages.
Robert and Terri had been working in community mental health for years. They wrote curriculum to help at-risk youth and their parents more effectively address challenges. In 2019, they wrote the book Extinguish Burnout for the Society for Human Resource Management. The book teaches people how they can take control of their experiences and to reduce their feelings of burnout – with or without management support. Alex was particularly fond of sharing these messages with his colleagues. Robert and Terri had to ship him copies so he’d stop giving out his signed copies.
Robert adapted his habit of reading and reviewing a book each week by focusing on reading related to suicide. He and Terri had countless conversations with suicide prevention experts, attempt survivors, and psychologists. Neither feels as if they’ve got it all figured out. However, they’ve got a great deal of research behind them. With over 50 suicide-related books reviewed, a general framework has developed.
Robust Futures was created to serve the public interest. The organization and its board of directors are committed to finding the highest leverage ways of reducing suffering and suicide.