Since November 3rd, 2014, one of my missions for this life of mine has become very simple and real; to assure no family experiences the pain of losing someone to suicide. In my pursuit of this aim, I often have to check my ego and make sure that the journey to zero isn't becoming a self-serving one. It is easy to get wrapped up in a world of praise and sorrow. When I share Lucas' story, the sympathy and attention come flowing. That admiration and connection can become addicting. They can inflate your sense of self and feed that more than the mission. Likes, retweets, comments, shares and old fashion praise are only temporary. They may pave the way toward my goal, but they can only do so much. To get there much more is required of us.
To save a life, I will walk a thousand miles. I will lace up my shoes and wear commemorative t-shirts, but the advocacy doesn't end there. It doesn't end with the obligatory event photo. No, these cause-based 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 all life is precious, depression and mental illness must be a part of our public dialogue, and to those survivors of suicide, you are not alone. This is a small gesture, but a necessary one, if we are to begin new conversations.
To save a life, I will raise a million dollars and then raise a million more. In a world, that demands action, money moves mountains and courts recognition. Raising money 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 these circumstances is never easy, but it is necessary. Being left behind to fight with guilt is at times too much for one set of shoulders to carry, yet these two conditions are acts of defiance. They provide a new narrative and serve to inspire others. It tells the world we are equipped to overcome. From here, our fellow man should be our aim. In our own time, we should begin sharing our story. We should begin speaking to those who have their backs against the wall and those at a loss for their next step. Our words of wisdom and experience can change circumstances. They can inspire conversation and squash loneliness.
To save a life, I will use my voice. After every mass shooting, we play this game where we pretend to be concerned about the mental health situation in this country. After the rhetoric cools, we must remove ourselves from the shadows and remind the world that not all who pick up weapons are mentally ill and not all who are reach for such lengths. Our voices must lend new spirit to the on-going conversation We must advocate for mental health education, suicidal ideation recognition courses, 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.
To save a life, I will walk a thousand more. The process is never over. The fight to end suicide deserves public recognition akin to cancer, AIDS/HIV, and any other debilitating disease. Failure to realize the commonalities only means more needless tragedies. 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.
Be good to each other,