Who We Are


TUGS (Talking, Understanding, Growing, Supporting) is a community nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental wellness and ending the stigma around seeking help for suicidal ideation. Working directly with individuals and in partnership with other community groups, we emphasize peer connection and support — particularly for those who find it most difficult to accept and express their personal struggles and professional frustrations. It’s OK to not be OK.

The TUGS board includes, but is not limited to: veterans, farmers, emergency services responders, men, LGBTQ+ people, social workers and other mental health professionals. We strive to represent all walks of life and the demographic groups at highest risk for suicide.

TUGS Founder

Jeff “Ditz” Ditzenberger has been a member of the agricultural community his entire life. A Navy veteran and former corn and soybean farmer, he brings a vast array of life and professional experiences to his work. 

Nearly 30 years ago, Ditz survived his own suicide attempt. In 2015, he founded TUGS to promote mental wellness in rural communities. Today, he is a certified mental health life coach and peer specialist in mental health and addiction recovery, and is a qualified Question Persuade Refer (QPR) instructor. He travels throughout the Midwest speaking about mental health and suicide prevention. 

In addition to his day job and his work with TUGS, Ditz enjoys spending time with his family, performing stand up comedy, acting in community theater, playing Santa, officiating weddings, coaching softball, golfing and riding his motorcycle.

For media inquiries and speaking requests, contact Ditz at tugsgroup@gmail.com