Mission Statement

The mission of I Need A Lighthouse, Inc. is to significantly reduce the loss and suffering from teen and young adult depression, suicide, and suicidal behavior through educational programs and community partnerships.

About Us

On July 25, 2001, in the space of a moment, Kathleen Wakefield’s life changed forever when a police chaplain knocked on her door and informed her that her 21 year-old son, Jake, had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Jake’s suicide gave Kathleen a new life goal, “It is my deepest desire to honor Jake’s life by educating teens and young adults about depression and suicide.”

I NEED A LIGHTHOUSE (INAL) was established by Kathleen in 2001 to carry out the following mission:

To significantly reduce the loss and suffering from youth depression, suicide and suicidal behavior in communities throughout the region. INAL will be the leading provider of education programs that increase the community’s awareness of the serious consequences associated with depression and suicide among teens and young-adults, and make it easy for at-risk youth to seek and obtain help.

Suicide Affects Thousands

in 2011, more than 39,518 lives were cut short by suicide. That means that suicide ends one life every 13.3 minutes. For every life lost, thousands more are affected by the loss of a child, parent, friend or co-worker. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people (ages 10-24). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia and influenza, and chronic lung disease – COMBINED.”

Research has identified risk factors for suicide, providing hope for treatment and prevention. The 2001 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, published by the US Department of Health and Human Services gives a comprehensive list of risk factors for suicide, including: mood disorders, and other psychological disorders, alcohol and substance abuse disorders, and social isolation. Untreated, depression has been identified as the leading cause of suicide.

Depression is treatable, suicide is not. We must focus on prevention, addressing depression and related risk factors. Through education and prevention, we can save lives and prevent needless suffering. I NEED A LIGHTHOUSE is committed to educating teens and young adults about depression and suicide in order to create a network of informed support around those at-risk and ultimately to save lives.


“Through the diligent efforts of Kathy Wakefield’s I Need a Lighthouse, Virginia Beach teens are educated about the realities of depression and suicide. Informed students are our first line of defense in the battle to prevent the needless suffering and loss of life associated with teen depression. I applaud Lighthouses’ important work in our city”.
-Jim Spore, City Manager, City of Virginia Beach

“I Need a Lighthouse works to ensure that teenagers and others have an understating of mental health and the symptoms of depression in order to assist them in realizing that they or their friends may need help. They identify sources of help and support to minimize the risk that depression may claim lives, especially young ones. As School Board Chairman for Virginia Beach and the father of a daughter who took her life I appreciate the work of I Need a Lighthouse and I support their efforts.”
-Dan Edwards, Chairman, Virginia Beach School Board