Nov. 13, 2018- Since November 3, 2014, one of my missions in life has become very simple: to ensure that no other family experiences the pain of losing someone to suicide. In my pursuit of this aim, I often feel I have to check my ego, because when I share the story of losing my brother Lucas, sympathy and attention come flowing. I worry that that admiration and sense of connection can become addicting, and inflate my sense of self, feeding that more than the mission. The likes, retweets, comments, shares and old fashion praise I get when I open up on social media about my suicide loss may pave the way toward my ultimate goal by increasing awareness, but to #StopSuicide, I realize, more is required.
To save a life, I will walk a thousand miles. I will lace up my shoes and wear suicide prevention apparel, but the advocacy doesn’t end there. The Out of the Darkness Walks are a wonderful opportunity to gather with like-minded people and move as one. With each step, we creep forward in solidarity and proclaim to all we encounter that life is precious; that depression and mental health must be a part of our public dialogue; and that no one affected by suicide is alone.
To save a life, I will raise a million dollars and then raise a million more. Helping to raise money and encouraging people to donate to the cause requires courageous conversations, retelling stories, and battling trauma. It isn’t an easy task nor is it for everyone, but we can all play our part. We can refer friends. We can provide success stories. We can speak about the help we received. We can talk about impact. We can share our vision of a world where no one dies at their own hand ever again. Once these doors are open, the ask for money is simple. What happens next can really inspire the masses.
To save a life, I will inspire others. Surviving in the face of a suicide loss is never easy. Many suicide loss survivors are left with unanswered questions, and (unnecessary) feelings of guilt. Moving forward, raising awareness, and fighting for the cause is a valiant act of resilience. We are providing a new narrative that serves to inspire others. We are telling the world we are equipped to overcome. Our words of experience can change other peoples’ circumstances. They can inspire conversation and squash loneliness.
To save a life, I will use my voice. We must advocate for greater awareness, suicide prevention education, and affordable therapy within our cities and rural communities. We must tell our story. It is not enough to hope for the best. We must use our voices to demand change.
The fight to end suicide deserves public recognition akin to cancer, AIDS, heart disease, and any other health crisis. In order to change the hearts and minds of people, we must walk. We must raise money. We must inspire others. We must advocate and then we must prepare ourselves to do it all again. We are fighting a long battle, but it will only be won by those who remain tireless and focused.
Together, this is a fight we can win.
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