David (on right) with Jeff
“While it is always best to believe in one’s self, a little help from others can be a great blessing.” – Uncle Iroh, from Avatar: The Last Airbender
Yes, the above quote was taken from a cartoon show. But sometimes inspiration can be found in the most unique places, and sometimes that inspiration can save lives and give someone out there hope. When someone with a mental health condition is in his or her darkest of moments, it’s hard for that person to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I too experience those dark moments, and realize how hard it can be to see the good with the bad. I have also lost someone to suicide, and know what it can do to the people who loved them. I am by no means an expert; my goal through my contributions with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is simply to give hope to those who need it.
My first experience with suicide came with the loss of one of my best friends, Jeff Weissman. Jeff was one of the funniest guys I knew. Whenever you were around him, you knew you were in for a good time. He was one of the very few people that I could trust with anything, whether it was a good laugh, a good cry, a random conversation, or to keep a secret. When I found out he was no longer with us, it crushed me. It crushed me because he didn’t reach out for help, and because I don’t have that friend around anymore. Over 200 people came to his funeral. It was incredible, and I wish he were there to see those that truly cared about him. This December is going to be five years since he’s gone.
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy, because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”
— Robin Williams
I don’t want people to feel worthless, and with the loss of my friend, I wanted to help out with a cause that helps those who feel helpless. I started getting involved with AFSP. My first Out of the Darkness walk was in October, 2014 in Mahwah, NJ. The following spring, I took part in the Tour for Hope, and then, that October, the annual Saddle Brook walk! It’s nice to work with likeminded people, and offer help to those who have experienced loss along the way. I have volunteered in the past with other organizations, but my time so far with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has been the most fulfilling.
“You must never give in to despair. Allow yourself to slip down that road, and you surrender to your lowest instincts. In the darkest times, hope is something you give yourself. That is the meaning of inner strength.”– Uncle Iroh
As I mentioned, I personally go through moments of feeling very down on myself. It happens more often than I would like to admit. It helps to find ways to keep myself busy. I currently write wrestling blogs, I like to do fish tanking, and I play video games on a semi-competitive basis. This is on top of two jobs, and my work with AFSP.
The reason I mention all the things I like to do is to express a point. I can either let myself sink into my lowest instincts and allow my dark thoughts to consume me, or I can do something about it to give myself as fulfilling of a life as I can. I obviously choose the latter. You have jobs that feed you, and you have activities that feed your soul. The best advice I can offer anyone who might be feeling blue is to make a conscious effort to find that thing that will feed your soul.
I feel that everyone should be involved in suicide prevention in one way or another, whether it is participating in walks or making a donation to someone who is participating in a walk. Your presence, and the funds that are raised, can make a great difference.
I already lost one friend this way, and I don’t want to see it happen again. On top of my experience, other friends of mine have lost fellow friends, significant others, siblings, and even parents this way. Imagine if this happened to you. It’s not a good feeling, believe me. It’s important to get involved and to make a difference.
During National Suicide Prevention Week, and every other week after, I hope you make an effort to make a difference. It could be a monetary contribution, or just being there for a loved one. Every action, no matter how small, can make an enormous difference. My hope is that one day suicide won’t be the epidemic that it is today. In the meantime, please be kind to one another, and let’s make a difference together!