Jun. 25, 2019 - This is the first year I participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk, in Boston on June 22.
I was driving to a regional meeting for my employer, Ocean State Job Lot (OSJL) when I heard an advertisement for The Overnight on the radio. A few minutes later, at the meeting, it was announced that one of our fellow employees had passed away suddenly. No cause was given, but our Director of Store Operations told us, "Guys, live your life! Life can be so short. You just never know." There was something about the way he said it, that made me realize what had happened. I was immediately inspired to do something, to take some positive action. I asked my employer if they could sponsor my Overnight team by advertising it in our company newsletter to see if anyone wanted to participate.
I didn’t just put our Overnight team together to remember our colleague. I wanted to bring attention to a subject many people feel apprehensive about discussing. I also wanted to walk as a way of thanking the mental health professionals who helped guide me through a dark period of my life in the summer of 2010. I happen to have a close friend who counsels emergency patients who are struggling. I am walking to honor the hard work and dedication of people like her who helped and inspired me, and enabled me to see that things can and will get better.
Life comes with difficult challenges sometimes, and for those who have been through trauma and hardship, and who may experience depression or another mental health condition, it can sometimes feel as though ending their life is the only option. But just as with physical health, mental health conditions can be managed.
Mental health isn’t always taken as seriously as physical health, but it’s just as important, and just as real. By walking in the Overnight in Boston this June, I want to send a message of support to those who are managing mental health conditions, attempt survivors, and those who have lost loved ones. We all have to work together to spread the message that it's okay to say you're not okay. Suicide impacts more people than many of us realize. If we’re not willing to talk about it, how will we ever know? We need to be a safety net for ourselves, and those in our communities.
I formed the Ocean State Job Lot team to help make a difference by raising funds that will go toward suicide prevention research, advocacy, education, and support for those affected by suicide. AFSP has set a bold goal through their Project 2025 initiative to reduce the suicide rate 20% by the year 2025, and we are proud to be part of that mission. As we walk the 16-18 miles through Boston, we will be thinking of the professionals who help people every day, those who are struggling, and their loved ones.
I’m hoping my participation at The Overnight this year is my first of many to come.
The 2019 Overnights took place in San Francisco on June 8, and Boston on June 22. Register today!